Language Knowledge

(perspectives regarding verbal and written communications)

  • It is estimated that Chilnese Mandarin has 845 million native speakers, about 2.5 times more than English speakers; however, more than 70% of all the home pages on the internet are in English, and more online users speak English than any other language, making it the world’s lingua franca or most popular international language.
  • English is mandatory for every student in China, starting in third grade, but in America, only three percent of elementary schools and four percent of secondary schools even offer Chinese.
  • Many science-related English words starting with the letters al-; including algebra, alkaline, and algorithm, are derived from Arabic.
  • Modern technology is making everything smaller, even our words. “Bits of eight” shrank to become byte, “modulate/demodulate” became modem, “picture cell” became pixel, and of course “web log” became blog.
  • The longest word recognized by the Oxford English Dictionary is pneumono-; as in pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, a lung disease caused by inhaling volcanic silicon dust.
  • When the Dutch encountered Africa’s Nama people, whose language includes clicking sounds, they dubbed them Hottentots, Dutch for “stuttering”.
  • Foreign sounds: Spanish Silbo, a whistle language, has only four vowel and four consonant sounds. Audible for miles, it resembles bird calls and is indigenous to—where else?—the Canary Islands.
  • Indian Sign Language is the world’s most widespread silent language, with some 2.7 million users.
  • More than one-third of the world’s 6,800 spoken languages are endangered. According to UNESCO, about 200 languages now have fewer than ten surviving speakers.
—Compiled from excerpts in
"20 Things You Didn't Know About Language"; by Dean Christopher;
A supplement to
CIR-PRM-DSC; 2012; page 5.