The dominance of Hindi has become a political issue in parts of India where it is not the primary language, particularly in the Dravidian-speaking south. The island nations of Southeast Asia , each with hundreds of local languages, have adopted national languages to facilitate communication. Javanese , for example, has more than twice as many native speakers as Bahasa Indonesia.
The Philippines , which also has hundreds of local languages and dialects, has adopted Pilipino or Filipino, a standardized form of Tagalog as a national language, although it is the first language of only about one-fourth of the population. English—the language of administration when the Philippines was a U.
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Factors such as ethnic migration, extended commerce, and political flux continue to complicate language patterns in many parts of Asia. Around the old Central Asian oases and in southern Siberia, migrants from Russia and exiled ethnic groups have created ethnically and linguistically mixed regional populations. As European Russians moved into the new cities in Central Asia and western Siberia, Russian became the language of the cities; the older languages have been confined chiefly to the countryside. In other areas, the economic attraction of the cities, both for foreigners and for the rural poor, has created urban linguistic patterns of increasing complexity.
Article Media. Info Print Print. Table Of Contents. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. Load Previous Page. Languages The languages of Asia are richly diverse.
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We know from comparisons of the rates at which children learn to speak that no language is intrinsically more difficult than any other language. Language is an arbitrary system of sounds and symbols which is used for many purposes by a group of people, chiefly to communicate with each other, to express cultural identity, to convey social relationships and to provide a source of delight for example, in literature.
Languages differ from each other in their sounds, grammar, vocabulary, and patterns of discourse. But all languages are highly complex entities. Languages vary in the number of their vowel and consonant sounds, from less than a dozen to over a hundred.
European languages tend to have inventories in the middle range — from around 25 such sounds e. Spanish to over 60 e. Alphabets reflect these sounds with varying degrees of accuracy: some alphabets e.
Welsh are very regular in the way they symbolise sounds; others e. English are very irregular.
The Asian side of the world - A few words on Central Asia - CNRS Éditions
Within grammar, each language comprises several thousand points of word formation and sentence construction. Each language has a huge vocabulary available to meet the needs of its users — in the case of European languages, where scientific and technical vocabulary is very large, this reaches several hundred thousand words and phrases. The words educated people use — their active vocabulary — can reach some 50, words; the words they know but do not use — their passive vocabulary — is somewhat larger.
In everyday conversation, people often make use of a small number of words, but with great frequency. It has been estimated that a year-old has already uttered some 50 million words. Living languages and cultures are constantly changing.
People influence each other in the way they speak and write. New media, such as the Internet, give languages fresh opportunities to grow.
What Native American Language Diversity Tells Us
Languages are always in contact with each other, and affect each other in many ways, especially by borrowing words. English, for example, has over the centuries borrowed from over languages, and European languages are all currently borrowing many words from English. The task of learning the mother tongue is one which we accomplish essentially in the first five years of life, though certain features of language such as vocabulary acquisition continue indefinitely.
Language develops through several stages. During the first year, babies makes a wide range of vocalisations, out of which emerge the rhythm and intonation patterns, and then the vowels and consonants. Around the age of one year, the first understandable words are uttered.
During the second year, two-word combinations follow, moving slowly to three- and four-word combinations. Three and four-year-olds use increasingly longer and complex sentences. Vocabulary grows from some 50 active words by 18 months to several thousand words by age five. This is the language people know best, the language they use most, or the language with which they most closely identify. With most bilinguals, however, the distinction is clearer, as the learning of a second or third language takes place in school or later in life.
There is no absolute age limit beyond which it is impossible to learn another language. Bilingualism is a complex phenomenon. A common myth is that a bilingual person has two equally developed languages; in reality, bilinguals rarely display a balance between their two languages.
Another myth is that all bilinguals are the same in their abilities; in reality, they display many kinds of bilingualism. Some sound like native speakers in both their languages; others have a strong foreign accent in one. Some can read well in both languages; others can do so only in one. Some prefer to write in one language, but can only talk in another. Bilingualism brings all kinds of benefits. Being bilingual can enhance your chances of successfully learning other languages.
Somehow, the learning of a third language is facilitated by the learning of a second. Bilinguals may also have some advantages in thinking: there is evidence that they make faster progress than monolinguals in certain areas of early cognitive development and are in many ways more creative in their linguistic skills. Bilinguals have the great advantage of being able to communicate with a wider variety of people. Because bilinguals have the opportunity of experiencing two or more cultures in an intimate way, their ability can lead to more sensitivity in communication and a readiness to overcome cultural barriers and to build cultural bridges.
There are also important practical issues: bilinguals have a potential economic advantage because a larger number of jobs becomes available to them. It is also increasingly accepted that multilingual companies have a competitive edge over monolingual ones. Languages are related to each other like the members of a family. Most of the languages of Europe can be grouped together, because of their common origins, as a single, large Indo-European language family.
The families in Europe with the most member-languages and the most speakers are the Germanic, Romance, and Slavic. To the Baltic family belong Latvian and Lithuanian. Separate families with only one member are Greek, Albanian and Armenian.