Language - Idioma

A language (from Latin : idiōma , and this from Greek : ιδίωμα 'peculiarity, idiosyncrasy, property') or language is a system of verbal communication (oral and graphic language) or gestural ( signed language ), typical of a human society . Each language is subdivided into dialects (by definition, each of the ways in which a language or language is spoken in a specific region), but it is currently doubted that there is a valid criterion to make such a division (of languages ​​or languages ​​into dialects) in an objective and safe way. Determining whether two linguistic varieties whether or not they are part of the same language is more a socio-political than a linguistic issue.


The generally accepted number of languages ​​is around 6,000 or 6,500. The Ethnologist: World Languages , in its 2009 result, indicates that there are about 6,909 languages ​​in the world. ('The Ethnologist: Languages ​​of the World') Although the number of languages ​​currently spoken is difficult to pin down due to the following factors:

  • In the first place, there is no universal criterion that allows deciding whether two speak with a certain degree of mutual intelligibility , should be considered dialects of the same historical language or two different languages.
  • Secondly, there are areas of the planet that have not been studied enough to determine whether the human groups present in them really speak the same languages ​​as other more well-known human groups. This applies especially to New Guinea ; certain areas of the Amazon where there is evidence of more than 40 uncontacted tribes; southeastern Tibet , western Nepal , northern Burma and the languages ​​of the Andaman Islands .
  • Third, from time to time speakers or people are discovered who remember a language that was assumed to be extinct, and who are able to use it in their daily lives. This was the case with the Kusunda of Nepal or the Opata of Mexico, which had been considered extinct, but decades later speakers who knew the language were found.

The language , from Saussure , focuses on the study of the linguistic, phonetic or graphic sign. Users –before speakers and to recognize the use of the language by communities with different abilities– use phonetic, graphic or gestural languages.


However, historical linguistics has been able to establish that all these languages ​​are derived from a much smaller number of language families . This fact usually serves as the basis for the phylogenetic classification of the world's languages. In addition to this type of classification, various types of typological classification can also be made , referring to the type of structures present in a language rather than its historical origin and its relationship with other languages.

Languages ​​by number of speakers

Languages ​​in alphabetical order

See also


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