1.    Language Concepts
            Relation to culture
            Linking device/ barrier
            Influence of thought
2.   Language numbers
            In use/extinct
            Global languages
            Primary and secondary language
3.   Language Groupings
            Major language categories
            Indo-European Family
4.   Language Problems
5.   References
6.   Preview Questions

Language Concepts

Language is the most important aspect of culture.  Language is a communication system, which embodies the ideas of a culture.  Language helps us to communicate the ideas and values of a culture and to pass them to future generations.

A common language is a linking device between people.  If what is spoken is unfamiliar to the individuals a barrier is formed and the information is lost.  This is why language links people and at the same time creates a barrier between people from different cultures.

Language is the most important aspect of culture.  Language makes every person individual.  In these days, every people are trying to learn more than one language to communicate and to share their feelings, beliefs and their culture.  By knowing more than one language, it helps people to know another culture, beliefs.  By comparing these things, people can think globally and they can make right decision in their life and it is good for the future generations.

Dialects also act as a linking device and barrier.  Dialects in language can be a change in the pronunciation of a word to a totally different word, meaning the same thing.  Dialects may affect word usage and/or pronunciation.

A person may say soda and another person may say pop.  We say " Car", but in Boston, they say "Ca”, dropping the "r" but meaning the same thing.

For example, the language that doctor’s use is referred to as Jargon, it is clear to them what they are communicating, but to the patient it may seem foreign.  A barrier has been put up between the doctor and the patient, because of the lack of words known by the patient.

Language also controls our thoughts.  Without ideas and questions brought up from the use of communication (language), our mind wouldn't be able to conceptualize ideas.  Therefore, we need words in order to think of ideas, and vice-versa: we cannot think of ideas unless we have words to express the ideas.

Language Number
There are about 3000 different languages in existence today.  Approximately 4,000 other languages that were used in the past are now extinct.  Of the 3,000 languages spoken today, small group in Africa and some parts of Asia speaks the majority.

Global languages are languages spoken by many people.1, 150 million people speak Chinese language; this is an example of the global language. Then, English appear in the second rank, 396 million people speak this language. Language has always been an important component of nationalism and group identity in every country.  In some countries such as Irish or the Bretons, they work hard to preserve their local language to show their identity, but in Europe millions of Europeans are busy to learn multiple language so that they can communicate across cultural and national boundaries.  In this age we can rarely found any European who does not speak at least two languages.

The Ranking of the Top Ten languages in use today:

1.   Chinese 1,150 millions- There are two Chinese languages.  Mandarin, the most prevalent language, and Cantonese.
2.   English 395 millions- Known as the language of the business throughout the world.
3.   Spanish 280 millions- Mostly central and South America.
4.   Hindi 270 millions- Found in India
5.   Russian 225 millions
6.   Bangali- Found in India.
7.   Portuguese/ Arabic
8.   Indonesian
9.   Japanese125 millions

    Your first language, that you learned to speak as a child, is known as your primary language.  Languages learned in school or in society are known as Secondary Languages.  An example is, your parents teach you English (Primary) in the home and when you go to high school you learn Spanish (Secondary).  Most people in the world learn English as their second language.

Language Groupings

There are many similarities between the different languages of the world.  These similarities arise because of the interaction between people.  Languages between cultures often have words that mean the same thing.  Example, "mother" and "father" sounds similar in different languages.  Languages became similar for many reasons.  The conquering of a population and the integration of that conquering party, force the conquered to learn the new language.  Also, close groupings of people with differing cultures will often spill over into each other’s area and cause similarities.

There are three major groups of languages in the world.

1.  Indo-European- consists of all the languages that start in Europe and go thorough India.

On the Indo- European language there are five categories.  Those are

(i) Germanic Group- Scandinacian (Iceland, Danish, Swedish, Norway) West German (German, Dutch, English).
(ii) Romance Group- (French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian) based on Latin origins.
(iii) Celtic Group- (Irish Gaelic, Scots, Breton, and Welsh) this group is declining in population.
(iv) Indo- Iranian Group- (Persian, Dushto, Bengali)
(v) Balto- Slavic Group- (Latvian, Lithuanian, Bulgarian, Slovene, Serbo-Croat, Slovak, Czech, Polish, Ukrainian, Russian.
2. Sinn- (Tibetan, Chinese) separated from country and developed their own language.
3. Japanese/Korean- separated from country and developed their own language.

Language Problems

Multilingualism is when people need to learn many languages.  Multilingualism composes many problems for country.
In Switzerland, there are three officials’ languages.  This is not an uncommon problem; most of the world countries are multilingual.

There are few cases, such as Austria, where only one language is spoken.  This is referred to as Monolongualism (one spoken language).  Where Monolingualsim is the practice, problems also arise.  Monolingualism makes people less exposed to other languages and cultures.


1) Rowntree, lewis, Price, Wyckoff.  2000. "Diversity Amid Globalization".  Prentice hall, Inc; Ppersaddle river, New Jersey, 10-330
2) Bradshaw, Michael. 1997.  A world Regional geography; Brown & Benchmark publishers.  McGraw Hill Companies, Inc, 40-45

Review Questions

1.   Which is the most spoken primary language:
A. English; B. Chinese; C. Hindi; D. German

2.  Which of the following is not a Germanic language:
A.  Dutch; B. English; C. Norwegian; D. Italian; E. Icelandic

3.  The language in use today number approximately:
A.1000; B.3000; C.8000; D.20, 000

4.  Which of the following languages is not in the romance group of languages?
A. French; B. Spanish; C. Welsh; D. Italian; E. Portuguese

5.  The Romance language category contains:
A. Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, English; B. English, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese;
C. Italian, Hindu, Islam, German; D. Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian; E. none of the above.

6.  What language is known as the business language in the world?
A. Spanish; B. Chinese; C. English; D. Hindi

7. How many people speak English throughout the world?
A.2, 500 B.225; C.270; D.395

Submitted by Arron Cleaver on 1-30-96.  Update submitted by Brent Coonrod on 1-19-96.
Update submitted by Joseph Howland on 5-25-97.  Update submitted by Akriti Gyawali on 11-03-2000.