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. Language, in a broader sense, is the method of communication that involves the use of – particularly human – languages.

The scientific study of language is called linguistics. Questions concerning the philosophy of language, such as whether words can represent experience, have been debated at least since Gorgias and Plato in ancient Greece. Thinkers such as Rousseau have argued that language originated from emotions while others like Kant have held that it originated from rational and logical thought. Twentieth century philosophers such as Wittgenstein argued that philosophy is really the study of language. Major figures in linguistics 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. This is because human language is modality-independent. 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 entirely 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.

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Map of the Franco-Provençal language area:
*Dark blue: protected.*Medium blue: general regions.*Light blue: historical transition zone.

Franco-Provençal (also Francoprovençal, Arpitan, or Romand) is a dialect group within Gallo-Romance spoken in east-central France, western Switzerland, northwestern Italy, and in enclaves in the Province of Foggia in Apulia, Italy.

Franco-Provençal has several distinct dialects and is separate from but closely related to neighboring Romance dialects (the langues d'oïl and Occitan, Rhaeto-Romance, Lombard, Piedmontese). Read more...

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Linguistics: Computational linguisticsGrammarHistorical linguisticsMorphologyPhoneticsPhonologyPragmaticsReadingSemanticsSociolinguisticsSyntaxWriting

Languages: Language familiesPidgins and creolesSign languages

Linguists: By nationalityGrammariansHistorical linguistsMorphologistsPhoneticiansPhonologistsSociolinguistsSyntacticiansTranslators

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Stubs: Constructed languagesLanguagesLinguistsPidgins and creolesTypographyVocabulary and usageWriting systems

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Arāmāyā in Syriac Esṭrangelā script

Aramaic (Arāmāyā; Old Aramaic: 𐤀𐤓𐤌𐤉𐤀; Imperial Aramaic: 𐡀𐡓𐡌𐡉𐡀; square script אַרָמָיָא, Classical Syriac: ܐܪܡܝܐ) is the language or group of languages of the ancient region of Syria. It belongs to the Northwest Semitic group of the Afroasiatic language family, which also includes the Canaanite languages, such as Hebrew, Edomite, Moabite, and Phoenician, as well as Amorite and Ugaritic. The Aramaic alphabet was widely adopted for other languages and is ancestral to the Hebrew, Syriac and Arabic alphabets. During its approximately 3,100 years of written history, Aramaic has served variously as a language of administration of empires, as a language of divine worship and religious study, and as the spoken tongue of a number of Semitic peoples from the Near East.

Historically and originally Aramaic was the language of the Arameans, a Semitic-speaking people of the region between the northern Levant and the northern Tigris valley. By around 1000 BC, the Arameans had a string of kingdoms in what is now part of Syria, Jordan, and the fringes of southern Mesopotamia and Anatolia. Aramaic rose to prominence under the Neo-Assyrian Empire (911–605 BC), under whose influence Aramaic became a prestige language after being adopted as a lingua franca of the empire, and its use spread throughout Mesopotamia, the Levant and parts of Asia Minor. At its height, variants of Aramaic, having gradually replaced earlier Semitic languages, and were spoken all over what is today Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Eastern Arabia, Bahrain, Sinai and parts of southeast and south central Turkey, and parts of northwest Iran. Aramaic was the language of Jesus, who spoke the Galilean dialect during his public ministry, as well as the language of large sections of the biblical books of Daniel and Ezra, and also one of the languages of the Talmud. Read more...
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Language News

3 August 2020 – Internet censorship in Thailand
Thailand's digital minister threatens action against Facebook for not complying with the government request to restrict content that is illegal in the country, including insults of King Vajiralongkorn. Facebook responded by disabling English-to-Thai automatic translations. (Reuters)
25 March 2020 – Libyan Civil War
Forces loyal to the GNA assault the Okba Ibn Nafa Air Base, west of Tripoli, while the Libyan National Army captures several towns near the Berber city of Zuwarah, including Zaltan, Jumayl and Ras Ajdir. (Reuters)
19 February 2020 –
The United Kingdom's Home Secretary Priti Patel announces a reform of the UK's immigration system. The changes includes the end of freedom of movement, a minimum requirement of migrants to speak English, a minimum salary of between £20,480 and £25,600, while priority will be given to skilled workers over non-skilled migrants. The changes are effective from January 1, 2021. (BBC)
9 February 2020 – 92nd Academy Awards
At this year's Oscars, South Korean film Parasite wins the most awards, including Best Picture and Best International Film. It becomes the first foreign-language film to win Best Picture. (The Hollywood Reporter)
10 October 2019 –
The Swedish Academy awards the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature to Olga Tokarczuk, "for a narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life", and the 2019 prize to Peter Handke, "for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience". The 2018 prize is awarded only now because last year it was postponed due to a scandal. (The Guardian)
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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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