What is your strongest spoken language, besides English?
Which of the following, besides English, do you speak?
Which of the following, besides English, can you read and write?
Now, please comment and write something in a non-English language that you know.
Are you going to tell us what it means?
This was an incredibly difficult poll to write, as LJ only allows 15 slots per question. Eventually it became one of those "can't please everybody, might as well offend everybody" questions. I aim to (dis)please!
- 1. The linguists: I started to go by "alphabetical ordering of 10 language likely respondents" and then realized that this was going to reveal nothing but my own biases. Then I went to Wikipedia's list of languages by number of native speakers, where the list is sorted by the size of the SIL ethnologue. Well, this was a little better, but I immediately saw that there would be a lot of overlap.
- 2. Speakers of sub-Saharan African languages: Well, get in line, really. I jumped Swahili (5 million native speakers, 80 million speakers as a second language) over Bahasa Indonesia (17 million native speakers, 140 speakers as a second language) on the principle that there are many second language speakers abroad, in developed and developing countries with Internet service, and more of these on my LJ friends list. Let's see if I'm right.
- 3. Speakers of many popular languages such as Persian (Farsi, Tajiki, Dari, etc.): There just aren't quite enough of you to outnumber those pesky romance languages!
- 4. oskeladden: I decided to arbitrarily omit non-Hindi languages spoken in India: Bengali, Punjabi, Marathi, Telugu, Tamil, etc. Why? Well, most of you who are naive speakers of those languages know English as a "second" language and a lot of you know Hindi, too, but I'm told you tend to be raised polylingual and learn English growing up. Tamil itself just squeaked by on the "other Asian" list. Now, for all I know, the number of native Bengali speakers who speak neither Hindi nor English exceeds the number of native Italian speakers, but you know what they say about a foolish consistency. I prefer a foolish diversity!
- 5. tamf:
BwahaBoo, Nordic languages didn't even make the cut. About 20 million native speakers all put together, it looks like, modulo overlap.
- 6. mrowe: tamf can't complain, really, as there are that many Dutch speakers alone.
- 7. borgseawolf and triestine: Actually, you should be flattered that your mother tongue is named here, especially triestine! Ukranian is between Polish and Serbo-Croatian in popularity, though I don't know any Ukranians who speak their native language and not Russian. (How many such people are there?) Romanian, the next living PIE language not spoken in India, isn't even close to the "cut" (about 80 million speakers).
- 8. ETA, 09:15 CST Tue 25 Nov 2008 - Yay, Jews! Hebrew speakers, rather. I wonder how many non-Jews (technically speaking) learn Hebrew as a first language. Thanks to casecob for the reminder.
Is there no one else I've offended? Is there no one else?!