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Introduction

A mural in Teotihuacan, Mexico (c. 2nd century) depicting a person emitting a speech scroll from his mouth, symbolizing speech
Braille writing, a tactile variant of a writing system
Cuneiform is the first known form of written language, but spoken language predates writing by at least tens of thousands of years.
Two girls learning American Sign Language

A language is a structured system of communication used by humans. Languages can be based on speech and gesture (spoken language), sign, or writing. The structure of language is its grammar and the free components are its vocabulary. Many languages, including the most widely-spoken ones, have writing systems that enable sounds or signs to be recorded for later reactivation. Human language is unique among the known systems of animal communication in that it is not dependent on a single mode of transmission (sight, sound, etc.), is highly variable between cultures and across time, and affords a much wider range of expression than other systems.

Human languages have the properties of productivity and displacement, and rely on social convention and learning.

Estimates of the number of human languages in the world vary between 5,000 and 7,000. Precise estimates depend on an arbitrary distinction (dichotomy) being established between languages and dialects. Natural languages are spoken, signed, or both; however, any language can be encoded into secondary media using auditory, visual, or tactile stimuli – for example, writing, whistling, signing, or braille. In other words, human language is modality-independent, but written or signed language is the way to inscribe or encode the natural human speech or gestures.

Depending on philosophical perspectives regarding the definition of language and meaning, when used as a general concept, "language" may refer to the cognitive ability to learn and use systems of complex communication, or to describe the set of rules that makes up these systems, or the set of utterances that can be produced from those rules. All languages rely on the process of semiosis to relate signs to particular meanings. Oral, manual and tactile languages contain a phonological system that governs how symbols are used to form sequences known as words or morphemes, and a syntactic system that governs how words and morphemes are combined to form phrases and utterances. (Full article...)

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Portion of the Temple Scroll, one of the longest of the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered at Qumran

Hebrew (Paleo-Hebrew script: ‎𐤏𐤁𐤓‫𐤉𐤕‬; Jewish “Ashurit” script: עִבְרִית‎, ʿĪvrīt, IPA: [ivˈʁit] or [ʕivˈɾit]; Samaritan script: ‎ࠏࠁࠓࠉࠕ) is a Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as one of the spoken languages of the Israelites and their longest-surviving descendants: the Judeans and Samaritans. It was largely preserved throughout history as the main liturgical language of Judaism (post-Second Temple) and Samaritanism. Hebrew is the only Canaanite language still spoken today, and serves as the only truly successful example of a dead language that has been revived. It is also one of only two Northwest Semitic languages still in use, with the other being Aramaic.

The earliest examples of written Paleo-Hebrew date back to the 10th century BCE. Nearly all of the Hebrew Bible is written in Biblical Hebrew, with much of its present form in the dialect that scholars believe flourished around the 6th century BCE, around the time of the Babylonian captivity. For this reason, Hebrew has been referred to by Jews as Lashon Hakodesh (לָשׁוֹן הַקֹּדֶשׁ‎‎, lit.'the holy tongue' or 'the tongue [of] holiness') since ancient times. The language was not referred to by the name Hebrew in the Bible, but as Yehudit (transl. 'the language of Judah') or Səpaṯ Kəna'an (transl. 'the language of Canaan'). Mishnah Gittin 9:8 refers to the language as Ivrit, meaning Hebrew; however, Mishnah Megillah refers to the language as Ashurit, meaning Assyrian, which is derived from the name of the alphabet used, in contrast to Ivrit, meaning the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet. (Full article...)

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Linguistics: Computational linguisticsGrammarHistorical linguisticsMorphologyPhoneticsPhonologyPragmaticsReadingSemanticsSociolinguisticsSyntaxWriting

Languages: Language familiesPidgins and creolesSign languages

Linguists: By nationalityHistorical linguistsMorphologistsPhoneticiansPhonologistsSociolinguistsSyntacticiansTranslators

Stubs: Constructed languagesLanguagesLinguistsPidgins and creolesTypographyVocabulary and usageWriting systems

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There are four languages with official status in Catalonia (an autonomous community of Spain): Catalan; Spanish- which is official throughout Spain; Aranese, a dialect of Occitan spoken in the Aran Valley; and Catalan Sign Language. Many other languages are spoken in Catalonia as a result of recent immigration from all over the world.

Catalan has enjoyed special status since the approval of the Statute of Autonomy of 1979 which declares it to be the language "proper to Catalonia". Spanish had been the only official language for most of the period between the 18th century and 1975. (Full article...)
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Maryada Patral letter of conduct written by Acharya Bhiksu (first head of Jain Swetamber Terapanth sect) written in Rajasthani language

Language News

8 November 2021 –
Ukraine's oldest English language newspaper the Kyiv Post suspends publication after 26 years in print following a dispute between its owner and journalists. All of the newspaper's journalists have been fired with immediate effect. (The Guardian)
29 September 2021 – COVID-19 misinformation
Russia threatens to ban YouTube if it does not reinstate two German-language channels backed by the Russian state that were deleted for violating COVID-19 misinformation guidelines. (BBC News)
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Languages of the world
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Languages of Africa: Arabic, Chadic, Cushitic, Kanuri, Maasai, Setswana, Swahili, Turkana, Xhosa, Yoruba, Zulu, more...

Languages of the Americas: Aleut, Carib, Cherokee, Inuktitut, Iroquois, Kootenai, Mayan, Nahuatl, Navajo, Quechuan, Salish, American Sign Language, more...

Languages of Asia: Arabic, Assamese, Balochi, Bengali, Chinese, Japanese, Hajong, Hebrew, Hindustani, Kannada, Kokborok, Marathi, Khasi, Korean, Kurdish, Malayalam, Manipuri, Meithei, Mongolian, Persian, Rajasthani, Sindhi, Sanskrit, Sylheti, Tamil, Tanchangya, Tulu, Telugu, Tibetan, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese, Khowar, more...

Languages of Austronesia: Austric, Fijian, Hawaiian, Javanese, Malagasy, Malay, Maori, Marshallese, Samoan, Tahitian, Tagalog, Tongan, Auslan, more...

Languages of Europe: Basque, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English (book), French, German, Greek, Italian, Latin, Leonese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Ukrainian more...

Constructed languages: Esperanto, Ido, Volapük, more...


Language types

Agglutinative language, Analytic language, Constructed language, Creole, Context-free language, Extinct language, Dialect, Fusional language, Inflectional language, International language, Isolating language, Language isolate, National language, Natural language, Pidgin, Pluricentric language, Polysynthetic language, Proto-language, Sign language, Spoken language, Synthetic language, Variety (linguistics)


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Applied linguistics, Cognitive linguistics, Accent (dialect), Computational linguistics, Descriptive linguistics, Eurolinguistics, Generative linguistics, Historical linguistics, Lexicology, Lexical semantics, Morphology, Onomasiology, Phonetics, Phonology, Pragmatics, Prescription, Prototype semantics, Psycholinguistics, Semantics, Stylistics, Sociolinguistics, Syntax

See also: List of linguists


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Alphabets: Arabic alphabet, Bengali alphabet, Cyrillic alphabet, Hebrew alphabet, Latin alphabet, more...

Other writing systems: Abjad, Abugida, Braille, Hieroglyphics, Logogram, Syllabary, SignWriting, more..

See also: History of the alphabet, Script

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