Did you know that there are currently 7,111 languages spoken around the world? This is according to Ethnologue, the most extensive language catalogue in the world. However, the number of languages is falling every year. Of the 7,111 languages, more than 90% are spoken by fewer than 100,000 people. This means that less dominant languages are more likely to become less popular compared to the more dominant languages.

1. One language is only spoken by 8 people.
Can you imagine it? The Busuu language is only spoken by eight people in the world! This is the Bantoid language of southern Cameroon. Eight people spoke the language in 1986 and three in 2005. 

2. More than 300 languages are spoken in the USA.
The United States is considered one of the most diverse countries in the world. There were a lot of different settlers here, so they had trouble choosing the official language when creating the laws of the Continental Congress.

3. Spoken languages die out.
Similar to a human or animal life, languages are born, they mature and… tragically, they also disappear. It is estimated that some 3000 languages could be silenced forever in the next few years.  The majority of the ones that will disappear our indigenous languages. An indigenous language known as Lower Sorbian is spoken in a part of Germany; while in the United States, among the languages in danger of extinction is Cayuga. And it’s because globalisation contributes to the disappearance of languages, as we have read in this article. A language becomes extinct if no one speaks it or is recorded using written variations. As for today, there are 241 languages that have died out.

4. Half of the world’s population speaks 23 languages.
More than half of the world’s population speaks only 23 languages. It is interesting to compare this to the more than seven thousand languages spoken.

5 Half of the world is bilingual.
More than half of the world’s population speaks more than one language.

6. One country has more than 800 languages
Papua New Guinea is the country with the most languages in the world. It has 841 languages, but 40 of these are expected to become extinct as only a few people speak them.

7. Most translated document
The Bible is the most translated document, closely followed by Pinocchio. The Bible as a whole has been translated into 683 languages and parts of it have been translated into more than 3,000 languages.

8. Oldest written language
Sumerian is the oldest written language dating back to 3500 BC. This is followed by Egyptian that dates back to 3300 BC. Ancient Chinese dates back to 1250 BC.

9. The language of love
French is known in today’s world as the language of love. This is not just because of the accent, but because France and Italy are known to be good destinations for a romantic break and French is the most dominant across those countries.

10. Smallest and Largest Alphabet
The language spoken in Papua is the Rotokas language and it is known to have only 11 letters. This makes it the smallest alphabet. On the contrary, the longest alphabet is the Khmer, the language spoken in Cambodia, which contains 74 letters.

11. Almost every language in the world has been influenced by another language.
This is thanks to diversity and people moving to different parts of the world. This influence can help you when it comes to learning a language. If you speak Spanish you must have surely noticed that there are some languages that elude you, such as English. Don’t worry, it’s not your fault, the majority of Spanish speakers have certain problems with this language, but…there are others, as we have read in this article, but you will be good at. Some of these languages are of Latin origin, like Portuguese, French, Italian or Catalan. What do you say? Are you feeling inspired to learn one? There are others, on the other hand, such as Arabic which even though it’s one of the most recommended languages for app translation, it is not at all simple to learn. Although with patience and persistence, everything is possible.

12. The city where the most languages are spoken.  If you live in Spain, you’ll have to cross the ocean and visit the United States to get to the place where the most languages are spoken. Have you ever heard of Queens? You can find it in New York and it revels in being the most diverse urban district in the world. As we have read here, the diversity of ethnic groups that live in Queens means that in this area alone, 138 different languages are spoken. Incredible!  

13. The most widely spoken language in the world. Mandarin Chinese is the most widely spoken language on the planet, although of course, China is also the country with the largest population in the world at the moment. Each word can have up to four main tones plus one neutral tone, and it’s spoken differently in each area or region of China—even giving rise to dialects—in comparison to elsewhere in the country.

14. One of the languages with the fewest vowels. Arabic is the eighth most spoken language in the world and is the official language in more than twenty countries. It is very difficult to translate, as it’s a language with very few vowels and many consonants, whose pronunciation is characterized by guttural sounds. How hard!

15. Some languages have a lot of character. Chinese has 50,000 characters, so you need a fantastic memory to learn it. If you are studying it at the moment, don’t worry, there are many people like you who use mnemonics to help them out. However, in order to read a newspaper you “only” need to know 2,000 characters. A piece of cake!

16. Which language came first? It is difficult to say which language is the oldest in the world. To work this out you need to take into account spoken languages and cultures with exclusively oral traditions. However, the oldest languages on written record are Hebrew, Sanskrit, Sumerian and Basque.

17. Creative linguists. They say that creativity is the power of a language, but sometimes it’s better not to use it. Since the 17th century, more than 200 artificial languages have been created. Many were devised by philosophers to use among themselves, although today’s artificial languages (such as Elvish, Klingon, Na’vi and Dothraki) have been created by popular culture.

18. Time to rhyme! Do you like poetry? We love it! However, rhyming can be complex in certain languages. E is the most common letter and vowel in English and R is its most frequently used consonant. However, there are more words beginning with the letter S. One entertaining thing about English is its long list of words that don’t rhyme with any others. For example, words like silver, angel, husband and wolf are difficult to rhyme. It takes a good poet to find words that can rhyme with them!

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If these interesting facts have grabbed your attention, take a look at these surprising news items about languages and other facts that you are probably not aware of.

Rocío González

Author Rocío González

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