The Attraction Exerted by the Languages of the World

The Attraction Exerted by the Languages of the World

At the beginning of the 21st century, there were 6,900 languages spoken throughout the world; however, it is estimated that about 90% of these languages will disappear by the end of the century, because people are feeling an ever stronger need to use the same language on ever larger areas.

This tendency towards uniformity is in fact already supported by an extremely strong argument, namely the fact that 95% of the world population uses only 275 different languages (representing approximately 4% of all the existing languages). However, only 11 are considered international languages, each with over 100 million users. Depending on the number of speakers, the most important languages of the world are Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, English, French, German, Hindi, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

If we refer to territories with a multitude of spoken languages, Africa and Asia should be mentioned in the first place. But also the island of Papua New Guinea, which holds the record for the most linguistically diverse country with a total of 820 spoken languages. The Republic of Vanuatu has approximately 100,000 inhabitants and an amazing diversity of languages, with as much as 120 different languages spoken. The 7 states of Southern Asia (India, Nepal, Bhutan, the Maldives, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) use approximately 1,000 of the languages spoken throughout the world.

Europe is at the opposite end, being very poor on linguistic diversity with its 230 spoken languages (approximately 3,5 % of the total number worldwide). Moreover, it seems that 100 of these languages are in danger of becoming extinct because they are not official languages and are less and less used. There is however an exception, the Catalan language, which is not an official language but is used by 7.5 million people and is therefore not in danger of becoming extinct.

It seems therefore that the 21st century will decide which languages will survive and which of them will remain just memories of bygone times. What is sure is that there are languages considered extinct which are however still used in certain fields of activity, usually in religious ceremonies and practices, as is the case of Latin (also used in the legal system), Egyptian, Sanskrit, Sumerian, Gaulish, etc.

It seems that the technological progress is strengthening the general trend towards higher global integration rather than maintaining ethnic and language identity.

By | 2018-01-05T08:50:51+00:00 January 5th, 2018|Articles|0 Comments