Word for Wednesday: Language

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There are an estimated 6000 languages spoken around the world and 43% are endangered. 

In February 2000, the first International Mother Language Day was marked and it has been observed every year since. This year the event takes place on February 21. Here is what the UN writes about the day on their website:

‘Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to 'encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.

Every two weeks a language disappears taking with it an entire cultural and intellectual heritage.

Linguistic diversity is increasingly threatened as more and more languages disappear. Globally 40 per cent of the population does not have access to an education in a language they speak or understand. Nevertheless, progress is being made in mother tongue-based multilingual education with growing understanding of its importance, particularly in early schooling, and more commitment to its development in public life.’

You can learn more about languages which are endangered here

The word language has been used in English since the late thirteenth century when it was spelt ‘langage’ and meant ‘words’ or ‘conversation’. It entered English via Old French, from the Vulger Latin ‘linguaticum’ from the Latin ‘lingua’ meaning ‘tongue’ or ‘speech’. The ‘u’ in the current spelling of the word appeared around the 1300. The term ‘language barrier’ dates to 1885.

What language do you speak at home? Do you speak more than one? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

19 Feb 2020
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