Linguists estimate that there are currently between 5,000 and 6,000 human languages. In the year 1200 there may have been as many as 15,000 languages. Linguists estimate that in the next 100 years, 85% of the world’s languages will become extinct. Every week a language dies; we will be left with 1,000 or fewer languages in a hundred years.
No. In fact, tribal languages that have not had contact with other world languages seem to be more complex. Major world languages like Chinese, Arabic, Spanish and English have become simplified as they have come into contact with other languages.
It is not so much conceptually hard but very time consuming. It takes thousands of hours to acquire a new language, so be patient and continue to get aural and print exposure to the language. Eventually you will become quite fluent in your new language.
Yes and no. Children appear to be able to acquire languages at a much deeper level. However, motivated adults often acquire languages very quickly because of the vast amount of conceptual knowledge they have built up. It is easier to learn new material when we have previous material already in our brain to which we can make connections.
All human languages are exceedingly complex, yet children manage to learn one or more by age three or four. Linguists think that for children, learning their first language, all languages are relatively easy/hard. Most children acquire their native language at about the same rate. If you speak Spanish or Italian, French will be easier to learn than English since French, Spanish and Italian are part of the Romance language family.
If you speak Korean or Turkish, Japanese will be remotely familiar, since they are part of the same large language family. If you speak Persian, Hindi many be easier for you since they are part of the Indo-Iranian Language family. If you are a monolingual Chinese speaker, Spanish will be relatively difficult, since Chinese and Spanish are not related.
Children growing up in bilingual or trilingual settings do this, but it does take them a bit longer to acquire two or more languages. Some people find this exhilarating and challenging; others find it confusing. It is probably optimal to take at least one year of one language and then continue studying that language while starting to study a new one.
Yes. The more linguistic information we hold in our brain, the easier it is for us to learn new linguistic information. It helps if the languages are related, like English and Spanish, but a student who is bilingual in Japanese and English, will have an easier time learning Spanish, than a monolingual English speaker. Once you’ve learned a second language, it does become “easier” to learn a third or fourth language because you know which methods and strategies work best for you and you have a better understanding of how to learn a language.
It is a common experience. Liken each language we study or learn to a track in the brain. Our native language track is very wide with nearly impenetrable walls. Our track for three years of high school XX language may be much narrower with much weaker walls. As we try to learn another language, our brain, searching for words, does not breach the strong walls of our native language, but may go into tracks of other languages and "raid” words or structures. As your new language gets better and better, and the track becomes wider, and the walls stronger, this will happen less and less.
Yes and no. If you head to a country without speaking their language, you will have a hard time getting people to interact with you. It’s better to start with two or three semesters in a protected setting, the classroom, and then travel to that country. Then you will speak and understand well enough to allow you to interact and thereby get more practice.
One third to one half of the world’s languages have some form of written language. The major types of writing systems are: alphabetic (French, Russian), syllabic, (Japanese, Arabic, Hebrew), logographic (Mandarin, Cantonese). Writing systems are only about 5,000 years old and before their invention, humans engaged in complex oral communication but lacked the ability to represent their language in written form. Many of the world’s current languages still function without benefit of writing, although most of the top 100 most spoken languages do have writing systems. Scholars believe that writing developed independently in at least four ancient civilizations: Mesopotamia (between 3400 and 3100 BCE), Egypt (around 3250 BCE), China (1200 BCE), and Mesoamerica (around 500 BCE). Most of today’s writing systems descend from these original inventions.