Dead Languages, a Review of the Past

Dead Languages, a Review of the Past

We've covered some of the easiest languages to learn as well as those languages that are most commonly spoken. However did you know there is a very large list of languages that are considered "dead?" What makes a language dead you may ask? In simple terms, a dead language is one which is no longer spoken in everyday use, such as Latin. While Latin may be the most commonly known dead language, there are many other styles of communication and writing which have gone extinct over time. Some of these are incredibly interesting and have a unique history all their own. Akkadian: Spoken between 2800 BCE and 500 CE, this language is reminiscent of alien writing found in many science fiction movies. Used in ancient Mesopotamia, Akkadian utilizes the same cuneiform alphabet as Sumerian. Many ancient creation myth texts are written in Akkadian such as the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Enuma Elish creation myth. Akkadian has grammar similar to classic Arabic. Coptic: Spoken between 100...

September 13, 2016

Papua New Guinea The Most Linguistically Diverse Country on Earth

Papua New Guinea The Most Linguistically Diverse Country on Earth

Residents of larger nations such as the United States, China, and Russia are often surprised to find that their country does not hold the most diversity of language. Surprisingly, the tiny nation of Papua New Guinea features 820 spoken languages. This accounts for nearly 12% of the known living languages spoken in the world today. Only 462,840 square kilometers, Papua New Guinea encompasses the eastern half of New Guinea and its offshore islands. About the size of the state of California, Papua New Guinea has a population of 7.3 million. Why so many languages? The country's history is probably the biggest factor. People have inhabited the island for at least 40,000 years. The language of original settlers, left alone in relative isolation, had time to change over countless generations. The territory itself is cut off from many nearby societies by mountains, swamps, dense forests, and rivers. The indigenous groups developed very different lifestyles as separate tribes throughout the...

August 10, 2016

Are We Facing a Bilingual Future That Includes Mandarin?

Are We Facing a Bilingual Future That Includes Mandarin?

Is there a possibility Mandarin (one of the many Chinese dialects) will become a “global lingua franca” or a language which can easily be a second language that bridge international borders? While the number of Chinese speakers on the planet more than doubles that of English speakers, the language itself is overly complex in its pronunciation matrix. The same word, with different emphasis, can take on several different meanings. This would make it difficult, say for a French native speaker to use Mandarin in a conversation with a Portuguese speaker also using Mandarin. Their native tongues would naturally skew the words in different ways, causing the conversation to go off-track rather quickly. Although English has long been touted as a complicated language to learn, as far as languages go, it is very neutral. Nearly all other languages spoken across Europe have gender qualities built in. As English is absent of these, using it as a common language becomes easier, espec...

August 1, 2016

Languages Blend Beautifully at This Year’s Olympic Games

Languages Blend Beautifully at This Year’s Olympic Games

On August 5th the countries of the world will work to put aside their differences, and come together for two weeks of sportsmanship in Rio, Brazil. Many of us have already been watching the qualifying events on TV and are excited for the games to start! 205 countries will be represented, including for the first time a team comprised entirely of refugees without a nation or flag. This year’s Olympics are sure to be an historic one and will definitely be memorable. With Brazil's cost to sponsor the games reaching a reported $14.4 billion, it is clear that much planning and many resources go into putting on such a large international event. One of the biggest challenges often overlooked is the inherent language barrier among athletes, referees, judges, coaches, organizers, and spectators. Just imagine the frustrations a Chinese footballer may feel arguing a call with a French referee. One of the ways the Olympics has historically handled this issue is through translated signs an...

July 13, 2016

North American Polyglot Symposium in July

North American Polyglot Symposium in July

Are you ready to learn a new language? On July 23rd and 24th, the North American Polyglot Symposium (NAPS) will be held at the Downtown Campus of Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It is a chance for those who speak multiple languages to meet up and share their passion for multi-lingual communications. This is the first time that Montreal will host polyglots from around the world. The event will be at the Sir George Williams Campus at 1455 De Maisonneuve Boulevard West. Click to see map for the downtown campus area. If you've always wanted to become fluent in multiple languages, you can visit italki.com. As one of the event sponsors, italki.com is an online source to connect with more 1,000 teachers and over 2,000 tutors to get 1-on-1 lessons with native language instructors. You can also connect with other polyglots at an international level by joining their online community of more than 2 million language learners. While visiting the site, you can browse thous...

July 8, 2016

Common Languages Spoken in the

Common Languages Spoken in the

The United States of American is often called the “great melting pot” or the “mixing bowl” as a way of referring to the cultures of many nations coming together into a new unified people. There is probably no other place where this is more obvious than in our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. A simple walk through the typical tourist's districts will be rife with foreign language speakers. In fact, you’ll probably hear more diverse languages being spoken in a 30 minute stroll through D.C. than anywhere else in the country. English is, of course, the most widely spoken language in the U.S. followed by Spanish. In fact, according to a 2011 Census Bureau survey, Spanish was the most spoken second language in all but seven states. There are over 37 million Spanish speakers in the United States. While Spanish may dominate the top spot on the list, Chinese is quickly growing in ranks. Much of this is due to the globalization of our economy and the str...

June 15, 2016

Want a Bigger Brain? Learn a new language.

Want a Bigger Brain? Learn a new language.

Do you know what happens to your brain when you learn a new language? Language processing is how your brain's uses the cerebral cortex to communicate ideas and feelings as well as how you process and understand words. When you learn an additional language, functions occur in specific areas of your brain that cause those areas to increase in size. As research studies continue to unlock some of the brain's secrets, scientists have concluded that a bilingual brain in someone who has been fluent in at least two languages from early childhood, enhances the person's ability to concentrate and may delay the onset of dementia by up to four years. For many years, scientists debated the issue of whether the processing of multiple languages occurred in differing areas of the brain. With more recent advances in brain imaging, they discovered that bilingual language processing occurs in much of the same brain tissue as monolingual communications. What does happen when you are using one language...

June 1, 2016

Polyglots and the Amazing Power of Language Hacking

Polyglots and the Amazing Power of Language Hacking

”Polyglot” is not a word commonly used in day-to-day conversation yet it refers to a personal quality many of us wish to possess, the ability to speak several languages. Often when we encounter an individual with this skill set we’re amazed at the ease in which they navigate multiple languages. Most Americans have taken a foreign language class or two in high school or college, yet the majority of us lost any ability we gained years ago. So what gives some people apparent ease when it comes to language learning? A recent Ted Talk by Benny Warsaw clues us in to what he calls “language hacking.” Benny, a native of Ireland, shares his personal story of amazement and frustration when it came to language learning. After several failed attempts, Benny began changing tack at the age of 21, starting with the three most common misconceptions most adults have when attempting to learn another language. When it comes down to it, the barriers are just in our head. ...

May 31, 2016

Why Do People Speak More Than One Language?

Why Do People Speak More Than One Language?

Mastering the language skills to be bilingual or trilingual would seem easy for those of us who grew up in the land of opportunity. After all, due the enormous immigrant population that settled our country, languages from all over the world were being spoken as American cities developed from coast to coast. In fact, if you add up the number of languages spoken in the United States as compared to other countries like China, the difference is huge in our favor. Ironically, our percentage of multilingual citizens remains very low, as 75% of Americans are monolingual. So how did that happen? As it turns out, a country's linguistic mixture develops for differing reasons. Colonial history played a major role in spreading the English language to many parts of the world, including our own. There's always the influence of regional loyalties to a native tongue, which offers insight as to why many French speaking Canadians never learn English, and vice versa. Unavoidable cultural influences o...

May 13, 2016

Advantages of Using an Audience Response System

Advantages of Using an Audience Response System

Audience response systems (ARS) create an interactive relationship between a presenter and his or her audience. Using ARS in multilingual meetings and conferences can provide huge benefits and can help your organization gain valuable insight into how attendees really feel about important issues. In turn, delegates and attendees get a better understanding of an overall group reaction. Generally speaking, polling makes the event more interesting, productive and engaging by collecting feedback in real-time. Regardless of the number of languages being used, there is a natural tendency for attendees to answer based on crowd psychology. After all, most people have a subconscious need to feel that their thoughts are in-line with that of the group. In addition to anonymity of opinions, key benefits for using an audience response system include: Improved Presentation Environment Increased Attendance at Meetings Higher Attention Level for the Audience More Participation thru Better Eng...

April 21, 2016

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