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3 Ways Technology Leaves Some Languages Behind

When it comes to preserving language diversity, technology is a double-edged sword. On one hand, the Internet makes it easier than ever before to preserve dying languages and to allow people to learn them. On the other hand, technological advances often favor certain languages over others.

Here are some of the ways technology geared toward English speakers is leaving some languages behind, along with the people who speak them.

Lack of Online Content

In the beginning, most Internet content was in English. This has steadily declined over time, and the latest numbers show only 52% of languages are written in English.

That’s good news for people who don’t speak English . . . but only if they speak one of the select few other languages with a significant online presence. As Katherine Schwab noted in the Atlantic, only 5% of the world’s languages are even represented online.

Even national languages like Hindi, with the third-highest number of total speakers in the world, are woefully under-represented, used on a mere .01 percent of the 10 million most popular websites.

And what good is Internet access if you can’t understand the content? Read more

8 Facts About Language Diversity for International Translation Day 2017

Our favorite holiday is almost here! International Translation Day is happening tomorrow, 30 September. Set to coincide with the birthday of St. Jerome, this is a day to celebrate translators and the art of translation. And this year is special. Although International Translation Day has been celebrated since 1953,  the United Nations officially recognized it as a holiday this year. 

Every year has a theme. The theme for 2017 is “Translation and Diversity.” So, here are 8 fascinating facts about language diversity around the world.

There are over 7,000 languages in the world today.

7,099 to be precise, at least according to Ethnologue. But the exact number is up for debate and constantly changing.  This uncertainty exists for a number of reasons.

First of all, it’s sometimes difficult to draw the line between a language and a dialect. So, the way languages are classified can change. Unfortunately, languages can also die out. Occasionally, linguists discover new languages in remote parts of the world. For example, researchers found a new language in India in 2013. 

And every so often, linguists catch a brand new language evolving.  Read more

Which City Speaks the Most Languages?

Which city speaks the most languages? It’s not London, nor any of the metropolises of Europe.  It’s actually New York City. This city of immigrants is also the most linguistically diverse city in the world. Want to learn more? Here are 7 interesting facts about New York City and its languages.

There are over 800  languages spoken in New York City.

For reference, the most linguistically diverse country in the world is Papua New Guinea, with 820 languages. New York crams almost that many into a single city. Nowhere else comes close. Even London “only” has around 300 different languages.

Queens is the most linguistically diverse neighborhood in the entire world.queens_montage_2012_1-1

“The capital of linguistic diversity, not just for the five boroughs, but for the human species, is Queens,” according to Rebecca Solnit and Joshua-Jelly Schapiro’s  Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas.  Residents of Queens speak approximately 138 languages, according to 2000 census data.

It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that Queens also holds the Guinness World Record for the most diverse place on the planet. Read more