Language experts estimate about 7,000 languages globally, from Mandarin Chinese spoken by more than a billion people to over 150 artificial languages spoken by different communities worldwide. Understanding a language is vital if you want to interact with other people in different societies. The key to any culture is in its language. Scientists believe that language evolved from a series of hand gestures and grunts.
This is what makes it a fascinating and complex aspect of our lives. From such primitive beginnings, many languages have been born and have died. With such a vast scale and variety in how we express ourselves, there are many fun facts about languages you didn’t know existed. Here are some we were able to dig up.
1. Nearly a Billion People speak Chinese.
Globally, Chinese is, without doubt, the most widely spoken language, with native speakers surpassing a billion marks. The most surprising aspect about this is the vast gap between Chinese native speakers and the second largest language of native speakers: English. If you’re wondering what was the first language spoken in the world, you made a wrong guess, and it’s not Chinese. Compared to English, which has about 526 million native speakers, Chinese has about 1.40 billion native speakers. This means the difference might close to a billion in the next few years. There’s a rapid growth in Chinese speakers, which means the gap will continue growing big.
2. Language May Have Originated Around 100,000 BC
Scientists are yet to agree on how old language is. However, many linguists agree that language began around the time when homo sapiens evolved. This also marks the period when a man grew to have a modern skull shape and vocal cords. With an increase in skull size, voice box, and brain, language also evolved. Some scientists even speculate that language could have developed before the physiological growth of modern brains and larynges. However, 100,000 BC is a good starting point.
3. Which Country Has the Most Spoken Languages?
If you guessed this correctly, it means you are a real linguist. Did you know Papua New Guinea has over 810 languages? Yes, the number is thought to be 841. Of these 841 languages, many of them are indigenously spoken, with little immigrant influence. Even with many such languages in this country, the three official languages are English, Tok Pisin, and Hiri Motu.
4. Language Evolved to Nurture Communal Ties among Our Ancestors
Some scientists did a study with macaque monkeys to try and understand language. They found out that language may have developed to replace grooming as a better way of establishing social bonds. Two theories also suggest our ancestors began to develop language by imitating natural sounds such as animal noises and bird calls. The second theory suggests that human communication might have started with the origin of involuntary sounds. These include distress sounds from excitement or pain or wails of sadness.
5. Did You Know the USA Has No Official Language?
Many people know English to be the first language of many Americans. Additionally, it’s also the language of media, business, and politics, to mention a few. However, English is not the official language of the US. Well, if you’re wondering why: this is because there isn’t one. Even with English being the most dominant language since the continent was colonized in the late 1500s, it was never legally adopted as the national language.
6. Accented Sign Language Exists
You should know there’s no such thing as being accent-less in a spoken language. However, what you should know is that accents in sign language exist. Sign language is not a direct translation or representation of spoken language. This means that sign language has its language with idioms, slang, expressions, and grammar. For example, born deaf signers can quickly know if another signer is deaf or if they’re new to sign language. In the USA, New Yorkers are known to be fast-signers, while those from Ohio are calmer. Additionally, accents can also be communicated with different singing styles.
7. Many People Prefer Learning English as a Language
English is the world’s most widely spoken language. The mind-blowing fact is that more people learn it than the overall total of those who learn Italian, Japanese, German, French, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese. Although English doesn’t have many native speakers, it makes it attractive as a foreign language to non-native speakers.
Did you find these secret facts interesting? If your answer is yes, you should also research more information about languages. We would recommend starting with your local language. You may end up uncovering some fun facts about your heritage and how your ancestors spoke your language.