There are currently nearly 7,000 living languages spoken around the world. Don’t worry, though, this language quiz only has 15 questions. So you don’t have to know all of them. In fact, only about six percent of the languages recorded by the International Linguistic Society in 2009 had more than a million speakers each. We’ll show you a simple word or useful phrase spoken around the world and you’ll be given four options to choose from. Bonne chance as the French might say. Or Fui gligg as the Bavarians might say. Or Bona sort if you’re Catalan. Or maybe Kia waimarie for the Maori. It all boils down to us saying: “good luck.”
Let us introduce you to the Listicle Liege, the Article Aficionado, the one and only Nathan. Since creating his first photo collage at the age of five with images clipped from his mom’s Chatelaine magazines (all of them), it’s been nearly impossible to stem this one’s tide of visual learning. Be it the annals of history or the latest celeb gossip, Nathan has probably researched it, likely already has a folder of relevant photos on his desktop, and definitely learned a lot of interesting facts to go with those images. Whereas most well-read adults have bookshelves full of classic literature, Nathan’s stacks are composed of National Geographic and TIME special editions and a curated section of first-grade readers (for inspiration). If you prefer picture books to wordy novels, listicles by Nathan are right up your alley.
English, which you clearly know since you are reading this quiz, is part of the Indo-European family of languages. There are about 200 members of the Indo-European family tree including German, Hindi, Bengali, French, Italian, and Persian. These are often sorted into smaller categories such as Slavic, Romance, Germanic, Indic, Iranian and more. Out of the most recent Ethnologue tally’s 6,909 languages in use today, only 230 are spoken in Europe. About 165 are spoken in North America. Some 2,197 are spoken in Asia. Then there’s Papua-New Guinea — an island of approximately 4 million people, with an estimated 832 languages spoken! The number of languages spoken around the world is “steadily declining,” according to the Linguistic Society of America. When young children stop learning a language, the language is unlikely to survive the death of its current native speakers. This is why linguists (those who study language) predict that within the next century nearly half of the languages known today will be extinct. For linguists this is a tragedy on par with the death of a way of life as: “a community’s connection with its past, its traditions and its base of specific knowledge are all typically lost as the vehicle linking people to that knowledge is abandoned.”
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