From: Frank Yung-Fong Tang (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Fri Mar 25 2005 - 10:14:04 CST
some people already answer some of the question, so I will only focus
on the unanswer part.
On Fri, 25 Mar 2005 00:26:17 +0500, N.R.Liwal <email@example.com> wrote:
> I wonder weather a discussion that I would like to initiate might have been
> already discussed on this forum, it is:
> How many languages are spoken in the world today?
> How many languages are written in the world today?
This question is more complex than you think because one question you
need to ask frist is 'written by 'who'?
Some of the languages have written forms for years and the written
form was already wildely accepted in the native society. Some others
only have written form recently, invented by missonary, and the
written form is either not-widely-adopted, in-progress, or
well-adopted. This make the answer to the question very complicated.
For example, Christian missionaries came to Taiwan and make Bible
translation for Min-Nan and also languages for native tribes. Before
that, people speak Min-Nan will read Chinese writting and 'in-brain'
translate into Min-Nan (I have to say it is a very interesting
process) when they speak. The Min-Nan Bible translation did not take
that approach, but use Roman letter to translate the Min-Nan Bible.
The result is the Bible translation is much easier for people to
'read' (out lound) and is very will accepted in the Taiwanese
Christian community. But there are also people try to use Chinese
character to 'transliterate' Min-Nan. Some one language could have two
written forms. I believe 100 years ago the Min-Nan Roman
transliteration is considered 'not wildly adopted' , but today it is
for sure 'wildly- adopted' . For many of these languages, it is very
hard to tell the level of adoption.
if you read http://www.wycliffe.org/wbt-usa/trangoal.htm it tell you
basically at least there are 1500+883+1034+405= 3822 languages that
someone 'write down' some of the Bible text. However, it does not mean
all these languages have well-adopted wirtten from. The 1500+ so
called ' in progress' languaeg could mean only one or two missionary
'write down' the language in his/her personal computer and no native
speaker know how to read them.
Even the 883+1034 languages which have NT translation or some
scripture does not mean most people know how to read them yet.
> It might be controversial, do we have any ranking of the world languages?
Yes, there are.
You can rank language in different way
1. By total population of 'native speaker'
2. By total population of 'any speaker' (primary and secondary)
3. By the number of user using it online
4. By the GOP
5. by influence
but that does not mean those ranking make sense in your context, nor
does it mean we have accurate data about them.
I suggest you dig into
to find more info if you want to.
also, the CIA World Fact Book whould give you some info of raw data.
> Is a culture die with a language, what we loose if a language die?
I guess you need to first define who do you mean 'WE'.
I, Frank Tang, will loose nothing if a language die.
We, if it mean my family, will loose nothing if a language die.
We, if you mean all people use English to write email in the unicode
mailling list, probably will still loose nothing if a language die.
We, internationalization software developer, will have one less
language to worry about how to implement the renderning, input , line
wrapping, spell checking, if a language die.
We, business man who sale language software, will have one less
opportunity to sale language product, if a language die.
Many languages die in the last 3000 years. But I beleive the total
number of languages actually increase instead of decrease in the last
3000 years. So.... I think you need to worry how many languages got
'diversed' instead of how many language 'die'.
> What precautions are needed to save languages from becoming endangered?
What precautions are needed to prevent new language be formed?
-- Frank Yung-Fong Tang 譚永鋒 Šýšţém Årçĥîţéçţ
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