World Languages: A language in this sense is a system of signs for encoding and decoding information. Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication.
The word “language” has at least two basic meanings: language as a general concept and “a language” (a specific linguistic system, e.g. “French”).
When speaking of languages as a general concept, several different definitions can be used that stress different aspects of the phenomenon.
These definitions also entail different approaches and understandings of languages, and they inform different and often incompatible schools of linguistic theory.
It is difficult to give an exact figure of the number of languages that exist in the world, because it is not always easy to define what a language is. The difference between a language and a dialect is not always clear-cut.
Sometimes, the distinctions are based purely on geographical, political, or religious reasons. It is usually estimated that the number of languages in the world varies between 3,000 and 8,000.
There is a list of the world’s languages, called “Ethnologue”. There are 6,500 living languages listed. Of these, 6,000 have registered population figures.
52% of the 6,000 languages are spoken by less than 10,000 people, and 28% are spoken by less than 1,000 people. 83% of them are limited to single countries.
Human language is unique in comparison to other forms of communication, such as those used by animals, because it allows humans to produce an infinite set of utterances from a finite set of elements.
The symbols and grammatical rules of any particular language are largely arbitrary, so that the system can only be acquired through social interaction.
The known systems of communication used by animals, on the other hand, can only express a finite number of utterances that are mostly genetically transmitted.
Human languages are also unique in that its complex structure has evolved to serve a much wider range of functions than any other kinds of communication system.
The 30 Most Spoken Languages of the World:
|Pos||Language||Family||Speakers In Millions||Where Spoken (Major)|
|1||Mandarin||Sino-Tibetan||1151||China, Malaysia, Taiwan|
|2||English||Indo-European||1000||USA, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand|
|3||Spanish||Indo-European||500||Mexico, Central and South America, Spain|
|4||Hindi||Indo-European||490||North and Central India|
|5||Russian||Indo-European||277||Russia, Central Asia|
|6||Arabic||Afro-Asiatic||255||Middle East, Arabia, North Africa|
|7||Portuguese||Indo-European||240||Brazil, Portugal, Southern Africa|
|8||Bengali||Indo-European||215||Bangladesh, Eastern India|
|9||French||Indo-European||200||France, Canada, West Africa, Central Africa|
|10||Malay, Indonesian||Malayo-Polynesian||175||Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore|
|11||German||Indo-European||166||Germany, Austria, Central Europe|
|13||Farsi (Persian)||Indo-European||110||Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia|
|19||Tamil||Dravidian||78||Southern India, Sri Lanka, Malyasia|
|21||Turkish||Altaic||75||Turkey, Central Asia|
|24||Italian||Indo-European||62||Italy, Central Europe|
|29||Gujarati||Indo-European||46||Western India, Kenya|
|30||Polish||Indo-European||46||Poland, Central Europe|
There are also a number of languages whose relationships have not been thoroughly investigated. Only a few of the languages that were spoken by the original inhabitants are still spoken.
The languages within a family usually share a common language, from which they developed. However, sometimes languages are considered to be related just because they happen to be geographically close to one another.