Sea of Languages

A Sea Of Languages

Do you know there are over 6900 spoken languages in the world? How many of them can you speak?

Language is unique to us Humans. Have you ever heard any animal speak a language? Well, yes, they do “talk” in some form. For example, a dog may bark in different ways. When he snarls, he is trying to scare you while a gentle purr may mean “Hello”. But animal talk is very limited. A bee can signal the source of nectar, but cannot tell how yummy it is!

Imagine if we too had no language, we might also be purring at each other. And you would not even be reading this. But intelligent as we are, we made this amazing system of codes and sounds called language. And we made over 6900 such systems! Languages have words with specific meaning, and we can make unlimited combinations to form sentences.

Just like you grow with age, languages also grow. Every year, almost 25,000 new words, are added to the English language itself. How many English words do you know? Can you count? This number is your “English vocabulary (voh-kab-yuh-ler-ee)”. Try counting your vocabulary in other languages you speak. (Quite a task  isn’t it?)

Then, some languages learn from other languages. For example, English has absorbed words from French and Hindi amongst several others. Cafe’ (French) and jungle (Hindi) are just two such words. Can you find more?

While some languages grow, many die with age. How a language dies, you may wonder. When there are no people left to speak it, that language is considered extinct or dead. Latin is one such language. A very long time ago it was spoken by ancient Romans in Italy. Pali, once spoken in India is another one.

Do you, or someone you know, speaks more than one language? If you spoke two languages you would be a ‘bilingual’, but if you spoke more than two, then I would call you a ‘multilingual’.

So how many languages are spoken in your country?

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