Tongues of the World: Native American Languages

A series about the diversity and beauty of human languages would be incomplete if the entire Western Hemisphere were left out, which is why Tongues of the World will be devoting its next two articles to some of the most widely spoken Native American languages. Because of the decimation of indigenous civilizations through contact with [...]

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: 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: 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 [...]