How Russian Developed as a Modern Language

How Russian Developed as a Modern Language

With all the talk in the news lately about Russia, we thought we'd jump on the bandwagon and dive into the Russian language. Russian is the eighth most widely spoken language on Earth and is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. There are roughly 155 million native speakers and an additional 105 million who speak Russian as a second language. It is also spoken as a lingua franca throughout many parts of Europe and Asia. Russian is the most widely spoken of the Slavic languages. It, along with the other languages in its tree, all shared a common written language known as Old Church Slavonic, which could be read and understood by most Slavic speakers of the time. Today Russian is still written in Cyrillic script which was developed to write Old Church Slavonic. Several well-known Russian leaders were responsible for shaping the language into its current modern form. First was Peter the Great. During his rule, 1696 to 1725, he worked to simplify the orthography of ...

May 15, 2017

Dutch: A Widespread European Language

Dutch: A Widespread European Language

When most people think of Dutch, pictures of the Netherlands immediately come to mind with windmills, tulips, and wooden shoes. However, did you know that Dutch has 23 million native speakers around the world and about 5 million additional second language speakers? While it is most widely spoken in the Netherlands, other speakers live throughout Europe, South America, the Caribbean and Africa. Like English, Dutch is a West Germanic language with many linguists saying it sounds and reads right in the middle of German and English. Unlike other languages, the change from "Old Dutch" to "Middle Dutch" was not extremely dramatic. Plus, Modern Dutch speakers today can most often read older literature. This is a great thing because the Middle Dutch period from 1150 to 1500 CE was a rich literary period with many fascinating works. After standardization in the late 1400s, the first major Dutch Bible translation was published, called the "Statenvertaling." This...

May 15, 2017

Prolingo receives 2017 American Excellence Award

Prolingo receives 2017 American Excellence Award

April 25th 2017 -  Prolingo has been selected for the 2017 American Excellence Award amongst all its peers and competitors by the American Economic Institute (AEI). Each year the AEI conducts business surveys and industry research to identify companies that have achieved demonstrable success in their local business environment and industry category. They are recognized as having enhanced the commitment and contribution of small businesses through service to their customers and community. Companies of this caliber enhance the consumer driven stature that American is renowned for. Prolingo has consistently demonstrated a high regard for upholding business ethics and company values. This recognition by AEI marks a significant achievement as an emerging leader within various competitors and is setting benchmarks that the industry should follow. As part of the industry research and business surveys, various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the sele...

April 26, 2017

It's All Greek To Me

It's All Greek To Me

Although "It's All Greek to Me" is a common phrase, Greek isn't actually as foreign to English as the saying would have you believe. In fact about 6% of English vocabulary is derived from Greek! Some estimates even put this influence as high as 12% to 15%. And when we focus on technical and scientific vocabulary the proportion of Greek climbs dramatically. There are roughly 13 million native speakers of Greek with the majority (11 million) living in Greece where it is the only official language. The second highest concentration is found in Cyprus where nearly 1 million people speak Greek. Surrounding countries like Italy, Albania, and Turkey have minority Greek populations as well. How did Greek become so widespread? You can thank Alexander the Great for that. As his empire expanded so did the Greek language. Over the centuries, the various dialects became quite different from one another. At one point the written and spoken form of Greek were so different from one anoth...

April 14, 2017

Improving Language Listening Comprehension

Improving Language Listening Comprehension

If you're one of the many people who attempt to learn a new language, you've probably reached a point where it makes sense "on paper" but less when listening to a native speaker. In many cases it's just as important to hone your listening skills as it is to improve your speaking skills. Here are a few tips to help you improve your listening comprehension of other languages. First of all actively practice listening to the language you are learning every day. Your listening practice should take as much time as your reading or speaking practice. A great tool for this is to watch foreign language videos online, especially dialogs. This will help you learn which phrases and responses are common in everyday speaking. These videos are especially helpful if they include subtitles. These subtitles can either be in English or in the language you are learning which will help you pair the written and spoken words. Second, as you advance in your new language continually push yourself...

April 14, 2017

Esperanto is King of the Constructed Languages

Esperanto is King of the Constructed Languages

With over 2 million speakers worldwide, Esperanto is the most widely spoken constructed language on the planet. Developed in 1887 by Polish-Jewish ophthalmologist L. L. Zamenhof, Esperanto was meant to be a unifying international language. Zamenhof created the language with 3 simple goals: 1. "To render the study of the language so easy as to make its acquisition mere play to the learner." 2. "To enable the learner to make direct use of his knowledge with persons of any nationality, whether the language be universally accepted or not; in other words, the language is to be directly a means of international communication." 3. "To find some means of overcoming the natural indifference of mankind, and disposing them, in the quickest manner possible, and en masse, to learn and use the proposed language as a living one, and not only in last extremities, and with the key at hand." Esperanto is so popular in fact, that the Esperanto Wikipedia is the largest...

March 16, 2017

Differences and Similarities Between Portuguese and Spanish

Differences and Similarities Between Portuguese and Spanish

With Portugal and Spain being so close together, and sharing a common language ancestor, there are a number of similarities between their official languages. Portuguese and Spanish are both Ibero-Romance languages which share the common "Vulgar Latin" ancestor along with French, Catalan, and Italian. Portuguese and Spanish share an 89% lexical similarity, meaning that there are equivalent forms of words in both languages. While many of the words in both languages have similar sounds and meanings, there are definitely a plethora of words which are spelled and pronounced exactly the same but with extremely different meanings. Take the word pelado for example. In Spanish it means to have a shaved bald head but in Portuguese it means to be skinned, or without skin. The same goes for polvo which means dust in Spanish but octopus in Portuguese. The written forms of Portuguese and Spanish are extremely similar. Typically native readers of either language can read both quite eas...

March 16, 2017

The Sinitic Languages of China

The Sinitic Languages of China

When someone says they want to learn to speak Chinese, this is often followed by the question of "which language or version?" Since China is such a large country in both population and size, Chinese is not a single language but rather a number of dialect groups, which are united by a common written language. While these are technically dialects of the same language, they are so different from one another that they can be thought of as separate tonal languages. With more than 1.3 billion native speakers of some version of Chinese, the differences in pronunciation and tone can vary dramatically from region to region. Most people learning Chinese as a second language focus on the Mandarin dialect as it is the official language of the People's Republic of China, Taiwan, and one of the four official languages spoken in Singapore. Depending on how you classify and group them, it can be said that today there are 13 dialect groups used throughout China containing over 200 distinc...

February 24, 2017

The Forgotten Romance Language

The Forgotten Romance Language

When we think of the Romance languages, Western Europe immediately comes to mind. However did you know that there are actually five (not four) Romance languages natively spoken today? We're speaking, of course, about Romanian. The Romanian language is named as it is because it developed from the language of Rome, Latin. It is a member of the Romance language family, alongside four others stemming from Latin. While French, Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian are better known and more widely spoken, we'd be remiss not to discuss Romanian. Part of the reason the Romanian language is often overlooked is because of its geographic isolation from the other countries, namely France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy. Though overlooked, it is spoken by over 24 million native speakers and about 4 million second language speakers. Romanian is the official language of both Romania and Moldova. When it comes to the history of the language it is difficult to determine exactly how Romanian developed as th...

February 10, 2017

A Father's Experiment in Constructed Language

A Father's Experiment in Constructed Language

Although it can be said that "all languages are made up," for spoken sounds to be a language, they generally have to follow specific rules. While English, Spanish, Russian and many others are commonly known languages, there is an entire other group of sounds known as constructed languages. In short, a constructed language is an artificial or planned human language, where one is not naturally occurring as a result of geography or culture. Also known as a conlang, a constructed language typically only varies from a natural one in that it has been consciously designed by the speakers of other languages. One of the best known, and most popular, constructed languages in the world comes from the science fiction world of Star Trek. We are of course speaking of Klingon. There are an estimated thirty to forty people worldwide who are fluent in the Klingon language with another few thousand being able to pick out some of the words, like "bat'leth" a double-sided battle sw...

January 17, 2017

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