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Portal:Language

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For a topical guide of this subject, see Outline of linguistics

Introduction

A mural in Teotihuacan, Mexico (c. 2nd century) depicting a person emitting a speech scroll from his mouth, symbolizing speech

Language is a system that consists of the development, acquisition, maintenance and use of complex systems of communication, particularly the human ability to do so; and a language is any specific example of such a system.

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. 20th-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.

Selected language

Map showing geographical distribution of the dialects in Latvia
Latvian (latviešu valoda) is the official state language of Latvia. It is also sometimes referred to as Lettish. There are about 1.2 million native Latvian speakers in Latvia and 100 thousand abroad. Altogether, 1.9 million, or 79% of the population of Latvia, speak Latvian. Of those, 1.2 million use it as their primary language at home. The use of the Latvian language in various areas of social life in Latvia is increasing.

Latvian is a Baltic language and is most closely related to Lithuanian, although the two are not mutually intelligible. In addition there is some disagreement whether Latgalian and New Curonian, which are mutually intelligible with Latvian, should be considered varieties or separate languages.

Latvian first appeared in Western print in the mid-16th century with the reproduction of the Lord's Prayer in Latvian in Sebastian Münster's Cosmographia Universalis, in Latin script.

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The Rosetta Stone in the British Museum
Credit: © Hans Hillewaert

The Rosetta Stone is an ancient Egyptian granodiorite stele inscribed with a decree issued at Memphis in 196 BC on behalf of King Ptolemy V. The decree appears in three scripts: the upper text is Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, the middle portion Demotic script, and the lowest Ancient Greek.

Selected topic

Splitverb.png
A split infinitive is an English-language grammatical construction in which a word or phrase, usually an adverb or adverbial phrase, comes between the marker to and the bare infinitive (uninflected) form of a verb.

For example, a split infinitive occurs in the opening sequence of the Star Trek television series: to boldly go where no man has gone before. Here, the adverb "boldly" splits the full infinitive "to go". More rarely, the term compound split infinitive is used to describe situations in which the infinitive is split by more than one word: The population is expected to more than double in the next ten years.

As the split infinitive became more common in the 19th century, some grammatical authorities sought to introduce a prescriptive rule against it. The construction is still the subject of disagreement among native English speakers as to whether it is grammatically correct or good style. However, most modern English usage guides have dropped the objection to the split infinitive.

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Articles

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, 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

Categories

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