Language Barriers

Because I am a giant nerd, I love quirky language facts and etymology. I read linguistics blogs and think Steven Pinker is fascinating. I think learning about learning languages could occupy my whole life. So, I thought I’d share with you a few facts about language:

  • Language with the most native speakers: Mandarin Chinese
  • Language with the most non-native speakers: English
  • Language with the most words: English (around 250,000 distinct words)
  • The language of air travel is English, even if it’s an Italian plane, landing in Italy, with an Italian pilot talking to Italian people.
  • No language is in itself more difficult than any other – all children, in fact, learn their mother tongue in the same natural way and with equal ease.
  • It is common for speakers of Chinese to be able to speak several variations of the language. Typically in southern China, a person will be able to speak the official Putonghua, the local dialect, and occasionally either speak or understand another regional dialect, such as Cantonese.
  • There is no verb conjugation in Japanese.
  • There are over 583 different languages and dialects spoken in Indonesia alone, including English and Dutch.
  • Mafia in Old Arabic means sanctuary.
  • The language Malayalam, spoken in parts of India, is the only language whose name is a palindrome.
  • Mandarin Chinese is a tonal language. It uses 4 different tones to convey different meanings: flat, rising, falling then rising, or falling.