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Tongues of the World: Wrapping Up

In this, our 30th and final post in the Tongues of the World series, we’re going to have a look at how far we’ve come, and perhaps share a bit of the process with our readers. As it turns out, the subject of human language is a broader, richer, more complex field than any of [...]

Tongues of the World: Nahuatl

Overview: The Nahuatl languages belong to the greater Native American language family known as Uto-Aztecan, which covers a wide variety of languages and dialects originally spoken by the indigenous peoples of modern-day Mexico and the southwestern United States. Generally spoken by people of the Nahua (or Aztec) ethnic group, it is one of the most [...]

Tongues of the World: Italian

Overview: With at least 85 million speakers around the world, Italian is the dominant language of the Italic branch of the Indo-European family of languages. It has seen much standardization over the years after being formed from disparate dialects on the Italian Peninsula, some of which are now in danger of extinction. The Italian language [...]

Tongues of the World: Yue/Cantonese

Overview: Yue Chinese, including Cantonese, is one of the most important varieties of the Chinese language, spoken in many areas of southern China including the densely populated island of Hong Kong. Cantonese is the most widely spoken Yue dialect and is often used as a lingua franca even by people who do not speak it [...]

Tongues of the World: Swahili

Overview: Swahili, or Kiswahili as it is called within the language itself, is a widely-spoken tongue throughout Eastern Africa and is ubiquitous along the coast of the Indian Ocean. It frequently serves as a lingua franca in the areas where it is found, especially in the countries of Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique, Tanzania, and the Democratic [...]

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: French

Overview: French is not only the native tongue of a major European country, but belongs to one of the most successful colonial nations in history. It is therefore spoken throughout the world, most notably in Canada and throughout western, northern and central Africa. Some former colonies, such as Tunisia, actively attempt to discourage the use [...]

Tongues of the World: English

Overview: English is one of the most widely-spoken languages in the world. While it has fewer native speakers than other languages such as Mandarin Chinese, it has spread far and wide due to British colonization and American global influence, becoming something of an international tongue. English is often accepted as a go-between language, or lingua [...]