Happy European Day of Languages! Thanks to the initiative of the European Council, this commemorative day has been celebrated since 2001. There are more than 200 languages in Europe alone, and today is meant to celebrate their diversity. Besides, knowing an additional language contributes to a better understanding of another’s culture and, consequently, better intercultural communication.
We’ll acknowledge the European Day of Languages with an interesting blog and get to know some of the strangest languages in the world.
Esperanto is a constructed international language created for easier communication. It originated in 1887, has a short and highly regular grammar, and is quite easy to learn. According to some sources, Esperanto is ten times easier to learn than some of the great European languages. It was created by Ludwik Lejzer Zmenhof, and with 2 million speakers it’s the biggest international auxiliary language in today’s world.
Yupik is used by less than 15,000 people, yet there are five different dialects within Yupik differing so much that the speakers cannot understand each other. These Eskimo languages are spoken in the space between Siberia and Alaska and are polysynthetic, meaning their words consist of a large number of morphemes. One word can be an entire sentence. For example: Sikursuarsiurpugu. = We sail through the thick ice.
The language used by American natives of the eponymous tribe, with about 3,000 of them living in Oklahoma. The Pawnee alphabet consist of only nine consonants and eight vowels. This language is slowly dying as there are fewer speakers each day. The reason behind it is that more and more young people learn English as their mother tongue. Pawnee can even be heard in the movie The Revenant.
A language isolate – cannot be related to any other known living language. It’s spoken by Basques, people from parts of northern Spain and southwestern France. It has a vigesimal, or base-20, counting system also used by ancient Mayas. For example 40 = 2 x 20, 60 = 3 x 20, 80 = 4 x 20, 90 = 4 x 20 + 10.
Laal is quite unknown and unexplored language. It’s spoken by around 750 people in two villages on the banks of river Shari in Chad, Africa. A number of scientists places Laal in a small group of African isolates. It is also in danger of extinction because younger generations leave the villages in order to find a better life in the nearby cities.
Pitjantjatjara is a dialect traditionally spoken in the central Australia and taught in schools, so it has young speakers. It’s the best known by its fantastic name. One of the interesting facts about this language is that numbers look like this: 1, 2, 3, 2+2, 2+3, a lot. So, everything above number 5 is marked as a lot because if you can’t count it using a single hand, there’s no need to be precise.
It’s never too late to learn a new language. Maybe not so exotic or unusual as the ones from our list, but the choice is yours! 😊
Scroll through our blog posts and check out how knowing another language can change the way you see the world and/or what are some of the fictional languages from the world of books and movies.
Which language would you love to learn? How many foreign languages do you speak?