Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Language, Lingua, Wika, Lingvo

During my one year hiatus in writing, I became busy with work and family. But I also became interested in something else, something I think is difficult for one to master quickly - learning a language. For sometime now I was interested in studying Spanish because of my immense interest about Spain and its culture, since somehow my country's culture was a mix of native, Asian, and European (mainly Spanish) culture. Also it would be an economic advantage if I know how to speak the language.

But learning it proved difficult. For one, I am not quite familiar then with certain rules or structure of a language. I do know verbs, adjectives, subject and predicate, numerals, and other basic structure, but still, learning it proved very difficult. I've purchased a few books, including grammar books and dictionaries but I just don't get it.

I learned my first language - Tagalog since birth and English at school, English took a while before I became comfortable in using it, I would definitely give a toast to my English teacher in 2nd year high school for letting me join those Spelling bees. It really helped develop my vocabulary.

My third language - Ilocano (lingua franca of the Northern Philippines) came very late in life. We migrated there when I was 14 and the downside of it is this, when you speak Tagalog at home and your teachers know that you are a migrant from another region, they will speak to you in Tagalog too. Not good if you want to learn the culture and the language. Besides I don't have at that time a conscious awareness that you want to learn, or maybe I was just too lazy to learn it. So it took me until after college to speak JUST THE BASICS of the language.

During my hiatus in writing, I got a message from an old friend. He wanted me to translate into Ilocano a simple article. It is about a language called Esperanto. I read that article and it describes what the language is all about. I got intrigued and once we met he recommended that I study Esperanto to get a feel on language learning. Turns out, he already know the language for two years. Anyway, eight months later, I am now able to communicate using basic words and learned how to create sentences using that language.

Basic facts about Esperanto

Esperanto is an international language, created to facilitate communication amongst people from different countries. In practical use for more than a hundred years, Esperanto has proved to be a genuinely living language, capable of expressing all facets of human thought. -Axel Belinfante

Esperanto was created in 1887 by Dr. L. L. Zamenhof to be a second language that would allow people who speak different native languages to communicate, yet at the same time to retain their own languages and cultural identities. Zamenhof grew up in Bialystok, Poland, where different peoples were not separated by a geographical barrier, but a cultural and language barrier. While he realized that a common language would not end the cultural barrier, it would enable ordinary people, not politicians, to have cross national conversations. To this end, he created Esperanto, a language that would be easy for most people to learn, due to it's logical, regular design.

Other facts can be found here.

Language facts:

-There are between 6000 and 7000 languages in the world - spoken by 7 billion people divided into 189 independent states.

-There are about 225 indigenous languages in Europe - roughly 3% of the world’s total.

-Most of the world’s languages are spoken in Asia and Africa.

-At least half of the world’s population are bilingual or plurilingual, i.e. they speak two or more languages.

-In their daily lives, Europeans increasingly come across foreign languages. There is a need to generate a greater interest in languages among European citizens.

-Many languages have 50.000 words or more, but individual speakers normally know and use only a fraction of the total vocabulary: in everyday conversation people use the same few hundred words.

-Languages are constantly in contact with each other and affect each other in many ways: English borrowed words and expressions from many other languages in the past, European languages are now borrowing many words from English.

-In its first year, a baby utters a wide range of vocal sounds; at around one year, the first understandable words are uttered; at around three years, complex sentences are formed; at five years, a child possesses several thousand words.

-The mother tongue is usually the language one knows best and uses most. But there can be 'perfect bilinguals' who speak two languages equally well. Normally, however, bilinguals display no perfect balance between their two languages.

-Bilingualism brings with it many benefits: it makes the learning of additional languages easier, enhances the thinking process and fosters contacts with other people and their cultures.

-Bilingualism and plurilingualism entail economic advantages, too: jobs are more easily available to those who speak several languages, and multilingual companies have a better competitive edge than monolingual ones.

-Languages are related to each other like the members of a family. Most European languages belong to the large Indo-European family.

-Most European languages belong to three broad groups: Germanic, Romance and Slavic.

-The Germanic family of languages includes Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Icelandic, German, Dutch, English and Yiddish, among others.

-The Romance languages include Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian, among others.

-The Slavic languages include Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Slovenian, Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian, Bulgarian and others.

-Most European languages use the Latin alphabet. Some Slavic languages use the Cyrillic alphabet. Greek, Armenian, Georgian and Yiddish have their own alphabet.

-Most countries in Europe have a number of regional or minority languages – some of these have obtained official status.

-The non-European languages most widely used on European territory are Arabic, Chinese and Hindi, each with its own writing system.

-Russia (148 million inhabitants) has by far the highest number of languages spoken on its territory: from 130 to 200 depending on the criteria.

-Due to the influx of migrants and refugees, Europe has become largely multilingual. In London alone some 300 languages are spoken (Arabic, Turkish, Kurdish, Berber, Hindi, Punjabi, etc.).

Here are more fun facts:

-There are 50,000 characters in the Chinese language.
You’ll need to know about 2,000 to read a newspaper.

-12.44% of the world’s population speaks Mandarin as their first language.

-There are about 2,200 languages in Asia.

-1/4 of the world’s population speaks at least some English.Learning another language is important

-50% of educational time in Luxembourg devoted to learning English, German, and French.

-There are 13 ways to spell the ‘o’ sound in French.

-There is a language in Botswana that consists of mainly 5 types of clicks.

-There are 2,400 languages classified as being ‘endangered’.

-231 languages are now completely extinct.

-One language dies about every 14 days.

-Eastern Siberia, Northwest Pacific Plateau of North America, And Northern Australia are hotspots for endangered languages.

-There are 12 imaginary languages in Lord of The Rings.

-Esperanto is an artificial language, but is spoken by about 500,000 to 2,000,000 people, and 2 feature films have been done in the language.

-There are 24 working languages of the EU.

-There are 6 official UN languages.

-The bible is available in 2454 languages.

-The oldest written language was believed to be written in about 4500 BC.

-South Africa has 11 official languages – the most for a single country.

-The pope tweets in 9 languages.

-The US has no official language.

-You can us an ATM in Latin in Vatican City.