Language facts: Irish

Irish is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family. It originates in Ireland, and was historically spoken by the Irish, but today only a small part of the population speaks the language. 

Irish has status as the national and first official language of the Republic of Ireland, it was voted an official language of the European Union in 2005, and it is recognized as a minority language in Northern Ireland. Irish is spoken as a native language only in parts of Ireland, mostly on the west coast. Native speakers are estimated at between 20,000 and 30,000.

An "emigrated" language

Due to various reasons, Irish language experienced a decline in use of such proportions that it almost stopped existing as a live language. The British rule as well as adopting English by the Irish catholic church and a good part of the middle-class was, interestingly, not the eventual catalyst of the Irish language decline – just some of the factors. The final "killer" turned out to be less ideological and in fact purely practical: during massive emigration of Irish folks to United States in the 19th century, speaking English simply ensured a greater variety of job opportunities (aside from farming). 

Irish as a symbol

In today's Republic of Ireland, Irish has largely lost out to English in common usage, but it remains a required subject of study in schools, while all official documents issued by the Irish government must be published in both Irish and English or only Irish. Since the 1920s, there has been an incline in use of the language (while it is considered by Irish themselves as having more of a symbolic, than practical value) and there are movements trying to promote Irish and its use not just in official communication.

Alphabet

A Á B C D E É F G H I Í L M N O Ó P R S T U Ú
a á b c d e é f g h i í l m n o ó p r s t u ú

Language facts: Uyghur

Uyghur belongs to the Turkic language family and  is derived from Old Turkic language with its origins in Mongolia and Xinjiang. This is the autonomous territory in northwest China, sometimes also referred to as East Turkestan, or Uyghurstan (although actively discouraged by Chinese government), in historical context even Moghulistan – the land of Mongols where the descendants of Genghis Khan actually ruled. As a member of the Turkic language family, Uyghur is related to languages like Turkish, Azerbaijani, or Turkmen. Uyghur has somewhere between 10 and 15 million speakers nowadays. 

Formerly known as Eastern Turkish, it is today a language spoken by the Uyghur people in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region where its status is that of official language. Uyghur is widely used in public life and in official settings as well as in print, radio and television. Apart from  Xinjiang, the language is spoken also in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia by Uyghur diaspora. 

Three different scripts

Generally, Uyghur has three main dialects, Central, Southern and Eastern, where the Central dialect is clearly the dominant one and spoken by 90% of the population. Like the other Turkic languages, it has vowel harmony. Uyghur has been influenced to a large degree by Persian and Arabic, and more recently also by Russian and Chinese. The Old Uyghur writing dates back to the fifth century and its writing system is based on the Arabic script. This writing system still dominates today, although Uyghur also can be written in two different Latin alphabets (classic Latin – Uyghur Latin Yëziqi, and a blend of Latin, Turkic and Pinyin* – Uyƣur Yengi Yeziⱪi – abandoned after 1982, when the original Arabic-based script was reintroduced) as well as Cyrillic. In Xinjiang, the Uyghur Arabic script is adopted as the official writing system, while the other alphabets are primarily used in areas outside Xinjiang. 

Alphabet 

ا ئە،ە ب پ ت ج چ خ د ر ز ژ س ش غ ف ق ك گ ڭ ل م ن ھ ئو،و ئۇ،ۇ ئۆ،ۆ ئۈ،ۈ ۋ ئې،ې ئى،ى ي

* Pinyin = The official writing system for transcription of Mandarin pronounciation of Chinese characters into the Latin alphabet

Language facts: Dutch

Dutch is a West Germanic language primarily used in the Benelux region and an official EU language. It is closely related to other West Germanic languages (e.g., English, West Frisian and German) and somewhat more remotely to the North Germanic languages. Because of former ownership of colonies on the African continent, Dutch has considerably influenced Afrikaans, one of the official languages of South Africa and the most widely understood language in Namibia. 

Nowadays the language is spoken by 24 million people around the world, primarily in the Netherlands, but also in Belgium, where Dutch is one of the official languages, next to French and German. The Belgian version of Dutch is often referred to as Flemish (Vlaams), which covers a group of Dutch dialects with slight differences from standard Dutch. But what are the differences exactly?

Difference between Dutch and Flemish

Flemish, or Vlaams in Dutch, is the standard Dutch variant spoken in the Belgian region of Flanders, with approximately 6.1 million speakers. It includes several dialects, all of which are interrelated with the southwestern dialects of Dutch. The main differences are in pronunciation and frequency of certain words. Because certain words (around 3-4,000) are more frequent in Belgian Dutch, many refer to the language as Flemish, however the words are indeed part of standard Dutch. These different Flemish-preferred expressions are often considered as "old-fashioned" in Dutch. A slightly more old-fashioned sense of Flemish in comparison with Dutch is underlined also by a more formal tone of communication among speakers of Flemish. While Dutch people tend to switch from formal to informal tone rather quickly, Flemish speakers use more formal expressions (for which they are sometimes considered cold or unpleasant). However, there are no spelling differences between the Dutch language used in Belgium and the Dutch one used in the Netherlands. 

Alphabet

In addition to the standard English alphabet, Dutch ends with (…) X Y IJ Z. The alphabet is shared also with the Flemish dialects.

 

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y IJ Z

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y ij z

Language facts: Tamil

Tamil is spoken in southern India, Sri Lanka and Singapore and by many migrant groups in Malaysia, South Africa, and even Canada, USA and parts of West Europe. It is the official language in Sri Lanka, the south Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Puducherry, with around 85 million native speakers. It is also one of the official languages of Singapore.

Tamil is based on the Dravidian vocabulary and has received strong impact from Sanskrit, however, the pure Tamil movement in the 20th century has sought to remove this influence, and there is now a movement to build expressions and words on Tamil roots, while in this process also replacing many loan words from English and other languages. 

One of the longest surviving languages

In India, Tamil is one of the 22 scheduled languages and as such, like the other languages, the tongue is subject to official measures to further develop the language. Tamil has existed for more than 2,000 years and can be traced back to the 3rd century B.C. It is regarded as one of the longest surviving classical languages in the world, and as such offers a wealth of classical traditions. There is a huge variety of literature written in Tamil script, moreover the earliest manuscripts found in India were in Tamil. Thanks to Christian missionaries, who published a book of Tamil prayers, it has become also the first Indian language to be printed. Modern Tamil was also influenced by contacts with European culture (e.g. use of European-style punctuation or consonant clusters, or a more rigid word order, which resembles the syntax of English – due to understandable historical reasons). 

Alphabet

Vowels:

அ ஆ இ ஈ உ ஊ எ ஏ ஐ ஒ ஓ ஔ

 

Consonants:

க் ங் ச் ஞ் ட் ண் த் ந் ப் ம் ய் ர் ல் வ் ழ் ள் ற் ன்

 

Tamil numerals (0 to 10)

௦ ௧ ௨ ௩ ௪ ௫ ௬ ௭ ௮ ௯ ௰

Language facts: Turkish

Turkish is predominantly used in Turkey and Cyprus. It has approximately 63 million speakers many of which can also be found in Greece, Bulgaria and other parts of Eastern Europe. Modern Turkish language has been highly influenced by Ottoman Turkish and has expanded as the Ottoman Empire grew. Turkish is also spoken by several million immigrants in Western Europe, mainly Germany, where a major Turkish diaspora exists. 

Not so common language family

Turkish belongs to Turkic language family (as its most significant representative), namely to the group of Oghuz languages. Oghuz Turkic languages – such as Azerbaijani, Turkmen, Qashqai, or Gagauz – are characteristic with a high degree of mutual intelligibility.

Some features of Turkish language, such as lack of genders in grammar, no noun classes, vowel harmony, or agglutination (the process in which complex words are comprised of combining various morphemes in a string) are common throughout the entire Turkic language family. Turkish also features a considerable amount of loanwords from Arabic and Persian, due to the adoption of Islam by Ottoman ancestors, the Seljuq Turks. In fact, the Ottoman Turkish was a blend of Turkish, Arabic and Persian (not really compatible with today's Turkish).

"Republican" language reform

The establishment of Modern Turkish language in everyday use resulted from the foundation of the Republic of Turkey and was strongly supported by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (interesting fact: "Atatürk" is not a real surname of the first Turkish president, but an honorary title that directly means "father of all Turks". Turkish parliament even banned the name to be used in connection with any other person – by law). As the Ottoman language (that was used as administrative language of the empire) consisted of too many loanwords of Persian and Arabic origin, the aim of the language reform was to replace these terms with original Turkish expressions. It's quite funny though that Atatürk himself often used Ottoman terms in his speeches, which resulted in his 1927 speech to the new Parliament being repeatedly translated into Modern Turkish to make it comprehensible to younger generations.

Alphabet

In 1928, as a result of Atatürk's reform, the original Ottoman script was replaced with a phonetic variant of the Latin alphabet, but with some additions. 

A B C Ç D E F G Ğ H I I J K L M N O Ö P R S Ş T U Ü V Y Z

a b c ç d e f g ğ h ı i j k l m n o ö p r s ş t u ü v y z

Language facts: Latin

Latin is the official language of the Vatican City. It derives from the Indo-European branch, from which Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian originate. Although it was spoken in the Mediterranean area, it also influenced the Germanic languages and is currently used in many abbreviations (“e.g.” was an example derived from the Latin “exempli gratia” and “i.e.” is short for “id est”). Latin terminology is widely used, amongst others, in philosophy, medicine, biology, law and for official purposes. Interestingly, Latin is spoken daily by only around 800 people.

Rise and fall of Latin

Originally, Latin was spoken in the area around the ancient city of Rome – Latium. In the course of the rise of Rome, Latin spread to other parts of the kingdom, later the Roman Republic, and subsequently became the "official" administrative language of the entire Roman Empire. This is also the reason why Latin strongly influenced vernacular languages in the Empire, such as French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and even English. In fact, so-called Romance languages are the direct successor of Vulgar Latin, the unwritten and non-standardized proto-language.

During the era of the Roman Republic, a standardized Classic Latin was introduced to replace the Old Latin and most of the written works used the standardized version.

Latin language survived also the fall of the Roman Empire and lived on in the form of Late Latin, later developed into Medieval Latin and Renaissance Latin. Until the 18th century, Modern Latin was the lingua franca of international communication and mainly science. Nowadays, Latin is preserved principally by the Catholic Church (while many clerics are still fluent in it) and science, as a vast number of scientific terminology in e.g. biology and medicine originate from Latin. Quod erat demonstrandum. :)

Alphabet

Compared to the English alphabet, the Latin language has 23 letters and lacks the letters J, U, and W, and it does not have a cursive script. 

A B C D E F G H I K L M N O P Q R S T V X Y Z

a b c d e f g h i k l m n o p q r s t v x y z

Language facts: Persian

Persian – also known as Farsi, although this term is considered as incorrect by many academics – is an Indo-European language of the Indo-Iranian branch. Persian and its varieties have official-language status in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. And Farsi has been called Dari in Afghanistan, due to political reasons only. Historically Persian (as a direct descendant of Old Persian) is a more widely understood language in an area ranging from the Middle East to India. Significant populations of speakers can be found in other Persian Gulf countries (Bahrain, Iraq, Oman, the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates), as well as large communities in the USA. 

There are approximately 80 million native speakers of Persian in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and about the same number of people in other parts of the world speaks Persian, at least as a second language.

Persian vs Arabic

Persian language was continuously preserved and developed through centuries and its own evolution phases, from Old Persian via Middle Persian to New Persian (the modern version of Persian spoken today). The New Persian actually is the direct follower of Old Persian and Persian language is among the oldest ones with preserved original texts. Due to its script, it is commonly mistaken for Arabic, or considered a variation of Arabic language. This is far from truth, as the alphabet set is actually the only resemblance of the languages. Persian sounds much different, with its own grammar and syntax. Similar to comparing e.g. German and French, both share the alphabet set, but are not mutually interchangeable. In fact, Arabic and Persian do not even share the language family, as Persian originates from the Indo-European language tree, while Arabic belongs to Afro-Asiatic (or Semitic) family.

Alphabet

Interestingly, words in Farsi are written from right to left, but numbers are written from left to right. And all is written in cursive only. The modern Persian alphabet is based on Arabic script, but has 32 letters - 4 more than Arabic. One variety of Persian, the Tajiki (spoken in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) is written in Cyrillic script.

ا، ب، پ، ت،5.ث، ج، چ، ح، خ، د، ذ، ر، ز، ژ، س، ش، ص، ض، ط، ظ، ع، غ، ف، ق، ک، گ، ل، م، ن، و، ه، ی

Language facts: Ukrainian

Ukrainian is the state language of Ukraine, the national language of Ukrainians. It belongs to the Slavic languages (the Eastern-Slavic group), being a part of the Indo-European language family, and is currently emerging from a long period of decline. The total number of the Ukrainian speaking population is estimated to around 39 million people. Ukrainian language is also spoken in Russia, Poland, Canada, Slovakia, Byelorussia, Argentina, Brazil, Australia and Transdniestria (Moldova).

Language fighting for survival

Historically, Ukrainian originates from Old Russian language. Until the 20th century, the language was even called "Little Russian", or Rusyn language in Poland and Slovakia.* 

The vocabulary of the language is based on words with common Slavic origin, but it also contains a great number of words formed during the period of its own historical development. Ukrainian includes a number of borrowed words that originally come from German, Polish and other languages. This was mainly due to political reasons, as Ukraine has undergone various levels of influence from  Poland, Lithuania, Austro-Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Germany and, of course, Russia.

The official approach to the use of Ukrainian in modern Ukraine has gone from complete neglect and even suppression and bans to popularization (mainly in the 19th and at the beginning of 20th century), and there has even been "ukrainization" (e.g. after the communist putsch in Russia, and now today once again) – seemingly as a result of current needs, trends, and development. 

Face of the nation

The complicated face and nature of the Ukrainian lands and nation are very strongly reflected in the complicated face and nature of Ukrainian language while the language itself has become one of the strongest symbols of Ukrainian statehood.

Since 1991, independent Ukraine has made Ukrainian the only official state language and implemented government policies to broaden the use of Ukrainian (often replacing Russian). Lately, this has been viewed as controversial, predominantly in the eastern parts of the country, where a strong enclave of Russians opposes the policy and demands equality of the Ukrainian and Russian languages.

Alphabet

The Ukrainian alphabet is based on the Cyrillic alphabet and has 33 letters. 

А Б В Г Ґ Д Е Є Ж З И І Ї Й К Л М Н О П Р С Т У Ф Х Ц Ч Ш Щ Ь Ю Я

а б в г ґ д е є ж з и і ї й к л м н о п р с т у ф х ц ч ш щ ь ю я

*There are many disputes over the classification of Rusyn. While it has its own ISO code, is spoken by the minority of Rusyns in Eastern Europe (mainly Slovakia and Serbia), and is even one of the official languages of the Vojvodina autonomy, it is also considered only a dialect of Ukrainian – interestingly enough, by Ukraine itself.

Language facts: Hebrew

Hebrew is a Semitic language and belongs to the Afroasiatic language family. Biblical Hebrew is closely related to Arabic and Aramaic, which are spoken around the territory where many of the biblical stories are focused – the Middle East. Hebrew is one of the two official languages of the State of Israel, along with Arabic. Modern Hebrew is spoken by some six million people inside Israel and one to two million people outside the country. Liturgical Hebrew is used by quite a few more people, in both Jewish and Christian religious settings.

Resuscitated after centuries

Liturgical Hebrew that was preserved in ancient religious heritage, but vanished from everyday use around 4th century, was actually revived. Modern Hebrew was invented as an adjunct to the Zionist movement in the 19th century. One of its first and most avid innovators was Eliezer Itzchak Perlman of Belarus, who created much of the modern vocabulary between 1885 and 1922. Mr. Perlman is renowned for raising the first “Hebrew-speaking” child – he forbade anyone to utter a word in any other language around his firstborn son, Ben Zion (who later changed his name to Itamar). 

Modern Hebrew is governed by an official committee – The Academy of the Hebrew Language. Decisions by the Academy are enshrined in law and frequently ignored by speakers of the language. It is interesting, though, that Hebrew is a native language of less than 49% of Israelis – other major native languages of Israel inhabitants are Russian, Arabic, English, French and Yiddish (though similar to Hebrew by using the same alphabet set as well as similar expressions, the two languages have very different origin and history. Yiddish is a fusion language originating in Liturgical Hebrew and Armaic, but mixes with High German and Slavic languages). 

Alphabet

Hebrew is read from right to left using a distinctive 22-letter alphabet. 

בּ ב ג גּ ג׳ ד דּ ד׳ ה ו וּ וֹ ו׳ ז ז׳ ח ט י ִי כּ ךּ ך כ ל

/ ם מ ן נ ס ע פּ ףּ פ ף ץ צ ץ׳ צ׳ ק ר שׁ שׂ תּ ת ת׳

Language facts: Arabic

Arabic belongs to the Afroasiatic language family and is a Semitic language of the Arabo-Canaanite subgroup – therefore closely related to Hebrew or Phoenician. 

With approximately 290 million speakers (of Modern Standard Arabic), it ranks in sixth place among the world’s major languages. In today's form, Modern Standard Arabic happens to be an official language of 27 states. Only English and French score higher. As the Arabic world is very large, it is not surprising that a large number of Arabic dialects have developed – counting all these, the number of Arabic speakers rises to an estimated 420 million. Arabic is the language of the Holy Quran, poetry and literature as well as an official UN language. As a liturgical language of Islam, it is used by an astonishing 1.6 billion Muslims.

Complicated language of complicated society

Arabic is a so-called sociolinguistic language, which means that from a purely linguistic view it's actually a group of familiar languages. For cultural (e.g. religious) or socioeconomic reasons it is considered as one language, though, despite that there are branches of Arabic that are mutually unintelligible. Arabic can be sub-classified as follows: Classical Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic and Colloquial Arabic. Obviously there's also a large number of dialects.

Classical Arabic (or Quranic Arabic) is used as the language of prayer and recitation throughout the Islamic world. Modern Standard Arabic, a constituted version of the language, is, though intelligible, much distinct from the spoken variants of Arabic dialects (with no observable boundaries or rules). The official constituted form of Arabic actually co-exist in common usage with various Arabic dialects while covering different social situations.

The language of culture

Because of Muslim expansion in the past, Arabic has influenced a lot of the world's languages, including Indian languages such as Urdu (which is in fact a Muslim influenced version of Hindi – that was actually also previously influenced by Arabic), Punjabi or Bengali. Also Roman languages, mainly Spanish, Catalan or Portuguese, borrowed many expressions from Arabic in the middle ages, when the Muslim world represented the cultural and scientific drive in then decimated Europe.

Alphabet

The Arabic alphabet has twenty-eight (28) letters. Arabic differs from Latin languages in that it is written right to left, but sequences of digits, such as telephone numbers, read from left to right.

أ ب ت ث ج ح خ د ذ ر ز س ش ص ض ط ظ ع غ ف ق ك ل م ن ه و ي

Language facts: Hindi

Standard Hindi, also known as Modern Hindi, is mutually intelligible with Urdu, another Indian language. Hindi is the official language in India and has borrowed its vocabulary heavily from Sanskrit. Hindi has close to 500 million speakers including Hindi dialects (41% of the population in India) which makes it the 4th largest language of the world, after Chinese, Spanish, and English.

Language as a political tool

Standard Hindi is based on Khariboli, a dialect of Delhi and surrounding regions. In the 17th century, this dialect acquired linguistic prestige and became generally known as Hindustani or Urdu. After India became independent, a language reform led to Standard Hindi with a modern grammar and orthographic standards. While many Hindi and Urdu speakers claim these are two different languages, this is largely due to religious nationalism and communal tensions between Hindus and Muslims. It is in a fact hard to tell the colloquial languages from each other. In the Indian constitution from 1950, Hindi was declared the principal national language of India, instead of Urdu. This "settled" the dispute politically (also with a contribution of Mahatma Gandhi who criticized the division), although certain resistance persists until today. 

One country, 22 languages

It may be worthwhile to note that English is the secondary national language due to historical and cultural development of India. Fluency in English is considered a social advantage. English is India's lingua franca and is widely used in higher society, politics as well as in business. Apart from official Hindu and English, there is over 20 officially recognized languages in India, including Urdu, Assamese, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Nepali, Kannada, Gujarati and others.

Alphabet

The main script of Standard Hindi is Devanagari, it is also the most commonly used alphabet for writing Sanskrit.

अ ब भ क च छ ड/द ध/ढ़ इ फ ग घ ह ई ज क ख ल म न/ण ऑ प फ क्यू र स श ट/त ठ/थ उ व व क्ष य झ

Language facts: German

German is the official language of Germany and Austria and one of the official languages of Switzerland and Belgium, as well as an official language of the European Union and the European Commission. It is used by more than 100 million speakers and belongs to the West Germanic group of the Germanic languages. Apart from Standard German of Germany spoken by 88 million, Austrian German (Österreichisches Deutsch) it has 8 million speakers, while Swiss German (Schweizerdeutsch) has 5 million speakers. Moreover, there are about 80 million non-native speakers.
FACT: German is also the second most used scientific language.

Too many dialects

German is an interesting language also because a vast number of flavors and dialects, some of which are so distant and even mutually non-interchangeable with Standard German, so they are considered separate languages (such as Swiss German for instance). Even though Standard German existed in written form, the pronunciation was (and in fact still remains) very different in every region and dialect. The Standard German pronunciation was influenced by North German (although, strange enough, it was learnt as a foreign language in Northern Germany itself) as well as the stage form of German used in theaters. 

The standardization of written German in fact did not occur until the beginning of the 20th century. It's worthy to note that the most comprehensive German dictionary was created by the famous German authors, The Grimm Brothers. Another important role in German standardization was also played with the publication of Martin Luther's Bible. 

Interesting fact: there is one German dialect (considered a separate language today) that is not written in Latin, but in Hebrew script and it is Yiddish – the old German dialect of Ashkenazi Jews, originated in Central Europe around 9th century.

West vs. East German

Although it might seem that 40 years of division between East and West Germany caused also variation in language, it had just a little influence given a too short development period. There are certain words that are culturally different in today's western and eastern Deutschland due to Russian influence (e.g. astronaut (West) vs. kosmonaut (East), or Gartenhaus vs. Datsche (Russian expression for garden house). Also brands influenced certain terms, e.g. tissue – Kleenex in the US – is termed "Tempo" in the West, after the major tissue producer in Germany, but only a general expression "Papiertaschentuch" is used in the East.

Alphabet

The German alphabet is basically the same as the English one, exept for the addition of the special characters Ä, Ö, Ü / ä, ö, ü, ß (so called sharp S – originally scharfen S or "Eszett", sometimes replaced in writing with a double "s" (common in Switzerland). The Eszett character is rather interesting, because it doesn't have an upper case form). When sorting, these extra letters are treated like their base characters, as if the dots (umlauts) were not present. 

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Language facts: Russian

Russian is the most widely spoken of the Slavic languages, and the largest native language in Europe. It belongs to the family of Indo-European languages.  Russian is the native language of around 165 million people and second language of an additional 110 million people.  Startling fact: Over a quarter of the world's scientific literature is published in Russian. Nowadays, Russian is spoken primarily in Russia and Belarus, partly Ukraine and is also one of six official languages of the United Nations as well as official EU language.

To foreigner's ears, most of other Slavic languages sound similar to Russian, although the languages are far from being interchangeable (in fact it is even less mutually similar than Romance languages are).

Language of the red Empire

Due to the status of the former Soviet Union as a superpower, Russian had great political importance in the 20th century and was in fact forced as a second language to all countries under Soviet influence, including central European countries and East Germany. Russian was a mandatory subject in school, even a mandatory part of school leaving exams. After the Soviet union collapsed, public attitude towards Russian language in satellite countries went to the opposite extreme, neglecting and suppressing the language out of general education while swiftly replacing it with English due to new political trends. Until today, a lot of 50+ people in post-communist countries still read the Cyrillic script (Azbuka) and have a general understanding and basic knowledge of Russian.

Alphabet

Russian uses the Cyrillic script, which is originally derived from the Greek script, but adjusted and supplemented by some letters from so called Glagolitic alphabet, developed by the brothers Cyril and Methodius, in order to comply with Old Church Slavonic sounds. Old Church Slavonic was, at that time, considered 4th liturgical language for a brief period beside Latin, Greek and Hebrew. Although a dead speech now, its still being used in the Orthodox church.

А Б В Г Д Е Ё Ж З И Й К Л М Н О П Р С Т У Ф Х Ц Ч Ш Щ Ъ Ы Ь Э Ю Я
а б в г д е ё ж з и й к л м н о п р с т у ф х ц ч ш щ ъ ы ь э ю я

Language facts: French

French is a Romance language spoken by 65 to 80 million people around the world as a native language, and by an additional 200 million or so people as a second or third language. Most native speakers of the language live in France, while most of the rest live in Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, Francophone Africa, Luxembourg and Monaco. French originates from the Latin language of the Roman Empire. Today, it is an official language in 29 countries, especially in many African countries, most of them former French or Belgian colonies. French is the official EU language, as well as one of the three working languages of the European Commission.

Language of artists, diplomats and chefs

Dollarphotoclub 79094140Around 17th century, French became a widespread lingua franca (in fact replacingItalian that enjoyed such popularity during the Renaissance period), similar to today's status of English. It has been much used in science, diplomacy, even arts for several centuries – in fact, until World War II. (The first signs of French being pushed back by English emerged after World War I., e.g. when the Treaty of Versailles was written in both French and English, despite former diplomatic convention). The truth is that English has been widely influenced by French and many English words related to law, government, military, and, of course, cuisine and cooking, are derived from French vocabulary (lieutenant (same), attorney/atourné, treaty/traité, finance/finer, fee/fie, jail/jaiole, etc). In case of French cuisine-related words (picnic/piquenique, spice/espice, soup/soupe, sausage/saussiche, juice/jus, beef/boef, etc), some of them are used in English even with original French spelling (grape, menu, bacon, omelette and so forth).

French in translation

It is important to note that in translation, documents destined for France can usually be used as they are in Belgium, Switzerland, etc. There are no major differences. In Belgium, to give an example, they have their own word for ninety "nonante", but the French equivalent "quatre-vingt-dix" is generally understood. However when documents are intended for Canada, they should be translated into Canadian French since there are significant differences between standard French and Canadian French. Canada for example has taken in many loan words from its US neighbor, and the language at times tends to be more formal than European French. And when working with translation memories, it is important to separate the two by their correct languages codes. Use "fr-ca" for Canadian French.

Alphabet

French uses the standard English alphabet with added ligatures (œ and æ) and also frequent use of acute accent ( ´ ), grave accent ( ` ), circumflex ( ˆ ), diaeresis ( ¨ ), and the cedilla ( ¸ ). Diacritics have no impact on the primary alphabetical order. 

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Italian is a member of the Romance group of languages. It is the official language of Italy, San Marino and Vatican City, and one of the official languages of Switzerland. Italian is spoken by about 58 million people in Italy, 30,000 in San Marino, and 840,000 in Switzerland. Italian is regarded as the 4th or 5th most studied language in the world and is also an official EU language. It is also one of the most visited countries in the world – close to 40 million people go there every year – which could explain the interest in studying Italian.

Medieval lingua franca

Italian is descendant of Latin, or better said Vulgar (common) Latin, and shares or resembles Latin in terms of vocabulary more than other Romance languages. From late medieval to Renaissance (mainly due to the cultural and trade impact and dominance of Italy) Italian had a function of so called lingua franca – universal language in trade and international relations in Europe, similar to today's English. Italian is profound with its number of mutually incompatible dialects and it is said (with a little overstatement) that two neighboring villages don't understand each other when speaking in their own regional dialect. 

Well-known Italian words

While it is common for many languages to have borrowed words from English and French, Italian is also a language from which many tongues have picked up a few terms. The most well-known are perhaps 'Pizza' (a word understood almost all over the word), 'Bank', 'Alarm' and 'Ghetto'. Other borrowed words that spring to mind come from the world of music and performance, e.g. 'Piano', 'Violin' and 'Opera'. In the world of science, look no further than 'Volt', which is an electric unit named after Alessandro Volta, the inventor of the world's first battery in 1779. 

Alphabet

Italian uses the same letters as in the English alphabet, with acute, grave and circumflex accents on vowels. Some letters (j, k, w, x, y) are excluded from the standard Italian though, used only in loan words.

 

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z



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