About Language

There are approximately 6000 languages. 60% or more of these are expected to disappear within the next 100 years. One of the reasons for this is that many of these languages are minority languages that are being squeezed out by the majority languages.

There are hundreds of languages in India, of which 15 are official.

“We see ahead of us how three or four languages will dominate in the world” says Professor Mark Pagel of Reading University, UK. His main area of work is Evolutionary theory as applied to genes and behaviour, language evolution, evolutionary genetics and phylogenetics.

Six languages are spoken by more than 1/3 of the earth’s people – Chinese, English, Spanish, Russian, Bengali and Hindi. Another couple of hundred languages are spoken by 45% of the world population. Only 250 languages have more than one million speakers. 96% of all languages are spoken by less than 4% of the world’s population.

Teaching Native Languages is not enough

Merely teaching a native language is not enough to preserve a minority language. It is necessary that the language is used and develops in tune with the times if it is to continue to live.

The largest language in the EU is German. All or part of the populations of Germany, Austria, Luxembourg, Belgium, Denmark (in the far south) and Italy are German-speaking. Part of the population of the French province Alsace speaks a German dialect. Furthermore, German is spoken in parts of Switzerland, Poland, Hungary and Romania. English and French respectively are spoken by approximately 60 million Europeans.

The Largest languages in the World

Chinese 1075 millions
Spanish 332 "
English 322 "
Bengali 189 "
Hindi 182 "
Russian 170 "
Portuguese 170 "
Japanese 125 "
German 98 "
Wo (Chinese dialect) 70 "
Arabic languages, total 175 "

Source: Institution of Linguistics, Gothenburg University, Sweden. 1999.

© Hans Malv, 2004