Tongues of the World: Marathi

Overview: Marathi is a widespread language native to central and western India, and is the official language of the state of Maharashtra. With nearly one hundred million speakers, it is one of the major languages of India and is spoken all over the world. It has dozens of dialects that can vary a great deal [...]

Tongues of the World: Telugu

Overview: The language of Telugu is also known by many other names, including Tenungu, Tenugu, and Telungu. The name “Telugu” could refer to the traditional boundaries of the region and its foundation in Hindu mythology, or it might be a reference to physical characteristics of the people who once lived there, but the true origins [...]

Tongues of the World: Wu

Overview: The term “Wu” is mostly considered to be a technical term used by linguists; those who encounter the language in other contexts are likely to call it simply “Chinese,” “Shanghainese,” or one of the many local dialect names. It is popular in and around China’s largest city, Shanghai, and in the surrounding Jiansu and [...]

Tongues of the World: Bahasa/Malay

Overview: The term Bahasa, which literally means “language,” refers to a group of languages spoken in and around the Indonesian and Malaysian regions of the world. All of them are related to the greater Austronesian language family, which is one of the oldest and best-established of the human language families. These tongues were first spoken [...]

Tongues of the World: Korean

Overview: The Korean language is spoken in both North Korea and South Korea, which became separate entities in the 1950s. It is also one of the two official languages (along with Mandarin) of the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in northeastern China. Korean has historically had a significant amount of interaction with the Chinese and Japanese [...]

Tongues of the World: Vietnamese

Overview: Vietnamese and its several dialects are spoken primarily in Vietnam and other East Asian countries, but there are large communities of Vietnamese speakers in the United States and Australia, as well. Increased travel between the Northern and Southern regions of Vietnam have led to a mixing of accents in the twentieth century, becoming more [...]

Tongues of the World: Persian

Overview: The Persian language is occasionally mentioned in English as “Farsi,” but in fact this term only refers to the Iranian variant of a language that is quite widespread. Like English, Persian has no single standardized version, with the “standard” instead being determined by the country in which it is spoken. Farsi is generally spoken [...]

Tongues of the World: Mandarin Chinese

Overview: The term “Mandarin Chinese” actually refers to a vast language family made up of dozens, if not hundreds, of regional dialects in mainland China. If all these speakers are counted together, Mandarin is unequivocally the most widely-spoken language in the world, with close to a billion people speaking it natively. Differences in pronunciation and [...]

Tongues of the World: Japanese

Overview: The series of islands that make up the nation of Japan have been evolving their own languages for many thousands of years, but the difficulty of reaching the islands in ancient times meant that they were not quite as affected by outside influences as many other human cultures. Much of their intercultural communication took [...]

Tongues of the World: Bengali

Overview: Bengali is one of the most important languages on the Indian subcontinent, as it is the second most widely spoken language in India (after Hindi or Urdu) and the national language of the country of Bangladesh. Bengali culture is often considered to include the Indian states of West Bengal and Tripura in addition to [...]