Links and resources: What is language?
How many languages are there in the world?
A great resource to find out about the world’s languages, where they are spoken, and how many speakers there are is https://www.ethnologue.com. Currently, Ethnologue estimates there are 7,102 living languages.
Which 5 languages are the most widely spoken?
According to Ethnologue, the languages with the most native speakers, at over 100 million each, are Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, English Hindi-Urdu, and Arabic. In May 2015, the South China Morning Post (international edition) made this fun infographic! Click to see it in high resolution on the original website.
What are the parts of language?
The following books provide a nice overview of linguistics (the scientific study of language), including all the parts outlined below. The first two are the textbooks I’ve used in my Introduction to Linguistics class. The third is a fun introduction to linguistics by analyzing jokes.
Language Files: Materials for an Introduction to Language and Linguistics. Published by the Ohio State University Linguistics Department.
An Introduction to Langauge. Victoria Fromkin, Robert Rodman, and Nina Hyams. Published by Cengage Learning.
Understanding Language Through Humor. Stanley Dubinsky and Chris Holcomb. Published by Cambridge.
Languages can be broken down into the following subparts:
Phonetics: the study of the physical properties of speech sounds.
Phonology: the study of the sound system in a spoken language, including which sounds are present in a language, and the rules for their combination. In signed languages, phonology consists of the combination of handshapes, movements, and locations.
Morphology: the study of the way words are constructed.
Syntax: the study of phrase and sentence formation.
Semantics: the study of the meaning of words, phrases, and sentences.
Pragmatics: the study of the rules governing the use of language. For example, how context and situation affect meaning.
Internet compilations of interesting words in other languages