Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Slides on top-8 languages with most native speakers and foundational research questions in linguistics

I'm making slides for a introductory linguistics presentation for secondary school students, thought you guys might like these three.

This first one is a bit complicated. In the square to the left you see the ranking of languages and macrolanguages by native speakers, according to Ethnologue 2015. To the right you see what happens if we ignore macrolanguages entirely. 

The numbers are in millions of speakers. They're from here.  (Since English is so prevalent, the name of that language is in IPA to be more fun.)


It's really easy to get your hands on these kinds of numbers, and for more well-known languages Ethnologue stats are more reliable than for lesser known. Yes, I do complain about Ethnologue but for purposes like this I think it's alright to use their data.

"Macrolanguage" is a term to help different language code standards map to each other. For example in one of the standards "Chinese" is counted as 1 language whereas in another it's divided up into multiple smaller languages. (This is mainly about ISO 639-2 and ISO 639-3.) It sometimes reflects what people think of as a larger cultural sphere, but not always. Here's the list.

Infographics of this kind of data are really popular, why not explore the set yourself and make some on your own?

More posts on population statistics and language classification




Other posts about deep research questions of linguistics

DISCLAIMER
I am not in charge of how Ethnologue divides upp varieties into languages. To complain about the population stats, go here. To complain about the segmentation of varieties into languages, go here.

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