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Portal:Language
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The Language Portal

A mural in Teotihuacan, Mexico (c. 2nd century) depicting a person emitting a speech scroll from his mouth, symbolizing speech
Braille writing, a tactile variant of a writing system
Cuneiform is the first known form of written language, but spoken language predates writing by at least tens of thousands of years.
Two girls learning American Sign Language

A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (sign language) and writing. The most widely-spoken languages have a writing system composed of glyphs to inscribe the original sound or gesture and its meaning.

The scientific study of language is called linguistics. Critical examinations of languages, such as philosophy of language, the relationships between language and thought, etc, such as how words represent experience, have been debated at least since Gorgias and Plato in ancient Greek civilization. Thinkers such as Rousseau (1712 - 1778) have debated that language originated from emotions, while others like Kant (1724 -1804), have held that languages originated from rational and logical thought. Twentieth century philosophers such as Wittgenstein (1889 - 1951) argued that philosophy is really the study of language itself. Major figures in contemporary linguistics of these times include Ferdinand de Saussure and Noam Chomsky.

Estimates of the number of human languages in the world vary between 5,000 and 7,000. However, any precise estimate depends on the arbitrary distinction (dichotomy) between languages and dialect. Natural languages are spoken or signed, but any language can be encoded into secondary media using auditory, visual, or tactile stimuli - for example, in writing, whistling, signing, or braille. In other words, human language is modality-independent, but written or signed language is the way to inscribe or encode the natural human speech or gestures. Depending on philosophical perspectives regarding the definition of language and meaning, when used as a general concept, "language" may refer to the cognitive ability to learn and use systems of complex communication, or to describe the set of rules that makes up these systems, or the set of utterances that can be produced from those rules. All languages rely on the process of semiosis to relate signs to particular meanings. Oral, manual and tactile languages contain a phonological system that governs how symbols are used to form sequences known as words or morphemes, and a syntactic system that governs how words and morphemes are combined to form phrases and utterances.

Human language has the properties of productivity and displacement, and relies on social convention and learning. Its complex structure affords a much wider range of expressions than any known system of animal communication. Language is thought to have originated when early hominins started gradually changing their primate communication systems, acquiring the ability to form a theory of other minds and a shared intentionality. This development is sometimes thought to have coincided with an increase in brain volume, and many linguists see the structures of language as having evolved to serve specific communicative and social functions. Language is processed in many different locations in the human brain, but especially in Broca's and Wernicke's areas. Humans acquire language through social interaction in early childhood, and children generally speak fluently by approximately three years old. The use of language is deeply entrenched in human culture. Therefore, in addition to its strictly communicative uses, language also has many social and cultural uses, such as signifying group identity, social stratification, as well as social grooming and entertainment. (Full article...)

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Old Gutnish or Old Gotlandic was a North Germanic language spoken on the Baltic island of Gotland. It shows sufficient differences from the Old West Norse and Old East Norse dialects that it is considered to be a separate branch. While vastly divergent from Old Gutnish and closer to Modern Swedish, a modern version of Gutnish is still spoken in some parts of Gotland and the adjoining island of Fårö.

The root Gut is identical to Goth, and it is often remarked that the language has similarities with the Gothic language. These similarities have led scholars such as Elias Wessén and Dietrich Hofmann to suggest that it is most closely related to Gothic. The best known example of such a similarity is that Gothic and Gutnish called both adult and young sheep lamb. (Full article...)
A wood coloured tall totem pole

Categories

Linguistics: Computational linguistics o Grammar o Historical linguistics o Morphology o Phonetics o Phonology o Pragmatics o Reading o Semantics o Sociolinguistics o Syntax o Writing

Languages: Language families o Pidgins and creoles o Sign languages

Linguists: By nationality o Historical linguists o Morphologists o Phoneticians o Phonologists o Sociolinguists o Syntacticians o Translators

Wikipedia books: English

Stubs: Constructed languages o Languages o Linguists o Pidgins and creoles o Typography o Vocabulary and usage o Writing systems

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The Kingdom of Belgium has three official languages: Dutch, French, and German. A number of non-official, minority languages and dialects are spoken as well. (Full article...)

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Phoenician alphabet.svg
Credit: Luca

The Phoenician alphabet was a non-pictographic consonantal alphabet, or abjad. It became one of the most widely used writing systems, spread by Phoenician merchants across the Mediterranean world, where it evolved and was assimilated by many other cultures. The Aramaic alphabet, a modified form of Phoenician, was the ancestor of modern Arabic script, while Hebrew script is a stylistic variant of the Aramaic script. The Greek alphabet (and by extension its descendants such as the Latin, the Cyrillic and the Coptic), was a direct successor of Phoenician, though certain letter values were changed to represent vowels.

Language News

11 February 2021 - COVID-19 pandemic
Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovi? announces a slight easing of restrictions beginning on February 16, citing the stable number of new cases in the past few weeks. Foreign language schools, casinos, gyms and betting shops can reopen and restaurants and bars can also sell coffee to go. (The National Herald)
4 February 2021 - China-United Kingdom relations
British broadcasting regulator Ofcom revokes the license of China Global Television Network (CGTN), an English-language Chinese news network, after concluding the network was "ultimately controlled" by the Chinese Communist Party. China responds to the move by accusing BBC News of spreading "fake news" about COVID-19. (Reuters)
24 January 2021 -
American manufacturer Tesla files a lawsuit against one of its former software engineers for allegedly copying confidential computer scripts onto a personal file hosting service. The former employee denies the company's allegation, claiming he transferred the files by mistake. (AFP via ABS-CBN News)
6 December 2020 - Anglophone Crisis
Cameroon holds its first regional elections amidst criticism of President Paul Biya and a growing separatist insurgency in the English-speaking areas of the country. The election will elect representatives to local councils and is supported by the government, whereas separatists have vowed to disrupt the election, arresting anyone participating in it. Gunfire is also reported in some areas. (Reuters)
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Topics

Languages of the world
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Languages of Africa: Arabic, Chadic, Cushitic, Kanuri, Maasai, Setswana, Swahili, Turkana, Xhosa, Yoruba, Zulu, more...

Languages of the Americas: Aleut, Carib, Cherokee, Inuktitut, Iroquois, Kootenai, Mayan, Nahuatl, Navajo, Quechuan, Salish, American Sign Language, more...

Languages of Asia: Arabic, Assamese, Balochi, Bengali, Chinese, Japanese, Hajong, Hebrew, Hindustani, Kannada, Kokborok, Marathi, Khasi, Korean, Kurdish, Malayalam, Manipuri, Meithei, Mongolian, Persian, Rajasthani, Sindhi, Sanskrit, Sylheti, Tamil, Tanchangya, Tulu, Telugu, Tibetan, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese, Khowar, more...

Languages of Austronesia: Austric, Fijian, Hawaiian, Javanese, Malagasy, Malay, Maori, Marshallese, Samoan, Tahitian, Tagalog, Tongan, Auslan, more...

Languages of Europe: Basque, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English (book), French, German, Greek, Italian, Latin, Leonese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Ukrainian more...

Constructed languages: Esperanto, Ido, Volapük, more...


Language types

Agglutinative language, Analytic language, Constructed language, Creole, Context-free language, Extinct language, Dialect, Fusional language, Inflectional language, International language, Isolating language, Language isolate, National language, Natural language, Pidgin, Pluricentric language, Polysynthetic language, Proto-language, Sign language, Spoken language, Synthetic language, Variety (linguistics)


Linguistics (Outline, Portal, Book)
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Applied linguistics, Cognitive linguistics, Accent (dialect), Computational linguistics, Descriptive linguistics, Eurolinguistics, Generative linguistics, Historical linguistics, Lexicology, Lexical semantics, Morphology, Onomasiology, Phonetics, Phonology, Pragmatics, Prescription, Prototype semantics, Psycholinguistics, Semantics, Stylistics, Sociolinguistics, Syntax

See also: List of linguists


Writing systems
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Alphabets: Arabic alphabet, Bengali alphabet, Cyrillic alphabet, Hebrew alphabet, Latin alphabet, more...

Other writing systems: Abjad, Abugida, Braille, Hieroglyphics, Logogram, Syllabary, SignWriting, more..

See also: History of the alphabet, Script

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