25 Unbelievable Things You Didn’t Know About Language and Linguistics

25. Children are able to learn as many languages as they are consistently exposed to (theoretically all of them).

24. The primary constraint for a child concerning the number of languages he/she can learn isn't its brain power but rather the amount of exposure it has to any given language.

23. Since it would be hard to consistently expose a child to multiple native speakers from numerous languages, linguists have determined that learning 4 languages simultaneously is the most realistic maximum.

22. Children are not confused by learning multiple languages. Although they do mix them in the beginning this quickly sorts itself out as time goes by.

21. Babies are actually capable of discerning every potential sound of every human language.

20. This "ability", or window of opportunity, quickly fades around 5 years of age and is known as the critical period.

19. If you learn a language before the critical period expires, that language is actually stored in a different part of your brain than a language you would learn later in life.

18. 75% of the world's population speaks more than one language.

17. In case you were wondering, there are currently about 7,000 languages on Earth.

16. Over 2,000 of them are spoken in Asia.

15. Nearly half of those 2,000 languages are spoken in one country - Papau New Guinea.

14. There is a language in Botswana that consists almost entirely of 5 distinct click sounds.

13. South Africa has the most official languages of any country at 11.

12. The United States has no official language.

11. The European Union has 24 official languages.

10. The United Nations has 6 - Arabic, Mandarin, Russian, English, French, Spanish.

9. There are 13 ways to spell the "o" sound in French.

8. 50% of a child's education in Luxembourg is devoted to learning a foreign language.

7. 25% of the world speaks English to some extent.

6. The Bible is the most translated book and is available in over 2,400 languages.

5. There are 12 imaginary languages in The Lord of the Rings.

4. In order to successfully read a newspaper in China you'll need to know about 2,000 characters.

3. The Chinese "alphabet" has about 50,000 characters in total.

2. Basque, a language spoken in the mountainous border regions of Spain and France is the only language on Earth not related to any other language.

1. There is a language in Mexico called Ayapaneco that is in danger of dying out because its last two remaining speakers refused to talk to one another (though they are now on speaking terms and have even opened a school to try and teach the language to others).

Reference: list25 (


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