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The Geography of Language Mr.Plater

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1 The Geography of Language Mr.Plater

2 What is Language? System of communication through speech, a collection of sounds that a group of people understands to have the same meaning Many languages have a literary tradition (written communication) – e.g.: English Some languages do not have a literary tradition – theirs is an oral tradition

3 Language Evolution Languages subtly gradate one to another Dialects and other regional differences may eventually lead to incomprehensibility - a new language Migration and Isolation explain how a single language can later become two or more languages

4 Official Language Countries designate at least one language as their official language, the one used by government for all official documents e.g.: Canada has two official languages (English and French) Most countries’ official language would be one that is commonly spoken – exception is India who has English as the official language; its national language is Hindi Hindi: The language of songs

5 Language: the essence of culture Language is an essential element of culture, possibly the most important medium by which culture is transmitted Suppression of language is the suppression of culture e.g. : Dutch children in South Africa (1800s); First Nations children in Canada (1900s) Languages are a hallmark of cultural diversity with distinctive regional distributions

6 Where are English Language Speakers Distributed?

7 English – official use

8 Origin of English Spoken fluently by 500 million worldwide, more than any other language except Mandarin (almost all clustered in China) However English is the most widely spoken language (global lingua franca a language of international communication) English official language in 42 countries Widespread distribution as a result of colonization & globalization (mass media) God, Gold and Glory………

9 Former British Colonies

10 Origin of English (cont) Germanic language Celts arrived in British Isles (2000 BC) 55BC-410AD Roman occupation – influence of Latin e.g.: “consequences”, “sinister” 450AD Britain invaded by Germanic tribes Angles, Jutes and Saxons (from Denmark & NW Germany) e.g.: “kindergarten”, “angst” Modern English evolved from Anglo-Saxons’ language Vikings (9 th -11 th Century) e.g.: “reindeer”, “window”

11 Origin of English (cont) William the Conqueror of Normandy invaded Britain 1066AD French speaking – official language for next 300 years was French (language of the court); English spoken by the common folk 1489 English re-established as official language Mingling of English and French influenced the English language e.g.: “celestial”, “mansion”

12 Invaders Influence on English Roman Empire 117 AD

13 Invaders Influence on English

14 English Dialects A dialect is a regional variation –Distinctive vocabulary, spelling, pronunciation –May be understood by other speakers –Social dialect (denotes social class & standing) –Vernacular dialect (common speech of a region) –Geographic diffusion influences dialect evolution British Received Pronunciation is the standard language – most acceptable for govt, business, education and mass communication

15 Differences between British and US English English came to America by British colonists who settled along the Atlantic coast Followed by other European settlers who became acculturated Isolation results in language evolution New experiences & objects required new names e.g.: raccoon, moose Influence of native American e.g.: kayak, squash

16 Linguistic Dialects in USA Word usage boundary - isogloss

17 Eastern US Speech Boundaries (isogloss) Language Divisions for English FamilyIndo-European BranchGermanic GroupWest-Germanic LanguageEnglish DialectNortheastern USA AccentSE New England (Bostonian)

18 Relationship of English to Other Languages Indo-European Languages

19 Indo-European

20 Family Tree Language Tree

21 Language Families Language family is a collection of languages related through a common ancestor in existence before recorded history Indo-European is the world’s most extensively spoken language family (3 billion 1 st language speakers worldwide)

22 Language Branches A collection of languages within a family related through a common ancestor that existed several thousand years ago Indo-European has 8 branches –Indo-Iranian (e.g.: Hindi) –Romance (e.g.: Spanish, French, Italian) –Germanic (e.g.: Dutch, German, English) –Balto-Slavic (e.g.: Russian, Ukrainian, Polish) –Albanian –Armenian –Greek –Celtic

23 Language Groups A collection of languages within a branch which share a fairly recent past and display similarities in grammar and vocabulary English belongs to the West Germanic group of the Germanic language branch


25 Germanic Languages in Europe

26 Indo-Iranian Languages Sindhi

27 Balto-Slavic Languages

28 Balto-Slavic East Slavic –E.g.: Russian West Slavic –E.g.: Polish South Slavic –E.g.: Bulgarian Baltic –E.g.: Lithuanian

29 Romance Language Branch The Roman Empire, at its height in 2nd century A.D., extinguished many local languages. After the fall of Rome in the 5th century, communication declined and languages evolved again.

30 Romance Language Branch Like English, these languages have been spread by colonialism –Spanish (Latin America; Africa; Philippines) –Portuguese (Brazil) –French (Indo-China, West Africa) –Italian (East Africa)

31 Other Language Families 50% speak Indo-European languages 20% speak Sino-Tibetan languages (China) 5% speak Afro-Asiatic languages (Middle East) 5% speak Austronesian languages (SE Asia) 5% speak Niger-Congo languages (Africa) 5% speak Dravidian languages (in India) 10% speak other language families

32 Sino-Tibetan Languages 420 one syllable words with meaning inferred from context and tone Chinese characters – ideograms Examples: –Mandarin –Cantonese –Thai –Burmese

33 Japanese and Korean Japan - isolated island state – language evolved separately (ideograms & phonetic symbols) Korea - peninsula state– language evolved separately (hankul)

34 Afro-Asiatic Languages Examples: Arabic and Hebrew North Africa and South West Asia (Middle East)

35 Altaic Languages E.g.: Turkish Uralic Languages E.g.: Estonian, Hungarian and Finnish

36 African Languages Niger-Congo Languages –95% in sub-Saharan Africa speak Niger- Congo languages –Other 5% speak Khoisan or Nilo-Saharan Major Niger-Congo language is Swahili spoken throughout East Africa (Austronesian languages include Malay- Indonesian, Polynesian languages and Malagasy)

37 Languages of Africa Afro-Asiatic –E.g.: Arabic Austronesian –E.g.: Malagasy Khoisan –E.g.: Hottentot (Nama) Niger-Congo –E.g.: Swahili Nilo-Saharan –E.g.: Fur Indo-European –E.g.: Afrikaans

38 Preservation of Language Local languages are threatened by the global dominance and diffusion of English Thousands of languages are extinct – many face extinction as elders die off –e.g.: some First Nations languages Hebrew – revived extinct language – 1948 when state of Israel was established, Hebrew was chosen as one of the official languages – still used in Jewish prayers it was culturally symbolic

39 Preservation of Language Celtic – preserving endangered languages –Irish and Scottish Gaelic –25% of people in Wales speak Welsh – revival through the Welsh Language Society – Welsh is compulsory in schools –Cornish is extinct – recent attempts to revive it in grade schools –Breton – 300,000 speakers

40 Multi-lingual States Belgium (2 official) Canada (2 official) Switzerland (4 official) Nigeria (> 200 languages)

41 French Language in Canada

42 Swahili – Lingua franca Kiswahili spoken widely in east and central Africa by an estimated 50 million Only 2 million native speakers Swahili functions as a lingua franca for –Trade –Government functions –Courts –Mass media communication

43 Isolated Languages Basque Icelandic Iceland

44 Endangered Languages As recently as 3,000 years ago, there were 10,000 to 15,000 languages in the world Now there are about 6000 left Of those, 1/2 will be gone by the year 2100 and all but 500 of the rest will be endangered. More than 90 percent of the languages in existence today will be extinct or threatened in little more than a century if current trends continue. Why are they disappearing? –Globalization Migration (Urbanization) Economic Development (Lingua Francas) Media Internet (Requires Arabic Character Set) –See graph of Internet Hosts by Language

45 Number of Native Speakers Chinese (937,132,000) Spanish (332,000,000) English (322,000,000) Bengali (189,000,000) Hindi/Urdu (182,000,000) Arabic (174,950,000) Portuguese (170,000,000) Russian (170,000,000) Japanese (125,000,000) German (98,000,000) French (79,572,000)

46 Language and the Environment Toponym - a place name –Toponyms are language on the land, reflecting past inhabitants, their culture and their relationship to the land Cook Islands Quebec

47 Toponyms – Chinese restaurant in Richmond BC

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