On September 26th the European Union (EU) celebrated the European Day of Languages with the aim of celebrating the linguistic diversity in Europe.
In figures, there over 200 European languages, twenty four of them are EU official languages (namely: Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, and Swedish). This turns the EU into a babble tower that perfectly reflects the cultural richness of this region.
The main idea behind this celebration is to promote linguistic diversity and to encourage people to learn languages and speak them broadly. In fact, speaking more than one language ―even if it is not at a native proficiency― facilitates intercultural communication, trade, and the knowledge one might have about cultures across Europe.
It should be noted that Europe is not the only region across the globe that own such linguistic richness. In south America, for instance, more than 200 indigenous languages live together with the main languages (Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English and French). Some of these indigenous languages are recognised are co-official in some areas, such as Guaraní in Paraguay. However, most languages in south America lack institutional support, leading to a disuse and possible extinction. Therefore, Maltese (with 520,000 native speakers) or Icelandic (with 331,000 native speakers) are more likely to be preserved than Quechua (with 8.9 million native speakers).
Even UNESCO has created the Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, where languages are classified according to their vitality (vulnerable, definitely endangered, severely endangered, critically endangered and extinct). This Atlas is a way to see how globalisation and the use of fewer lingua franca can deteriorate the World’s language richness.
Language diversity also means adaptation to the environment. Thereby, to foster language diversity, let’s learn Guarani, Náhuatl, Basque, Welsh or Maori as a foreign language.
For financial, heath and life benefits of learning a language see: