How Do Language Diffuse?

Traditionally, throughout the early history of man, languages diffused contagiously, or from one geographic area to another, adjacently. With the invention of the printing press in 1440, with Johann Gutenberg, language, in the form of writing, became abundant over large spatial areas with little cost. About a century and a half later, colonization implemented relocation diffusion on a mass global scale. Colonizers brought their languages to foreign lands, often subjugating indigenous peoples to learn their languages. For example, Spanish colonization of much of South America is the primary reason why most South Americans speak Spanish, an Indo-European language with its roots in Europe.

With the diffusion of languages comes the emergence of language blends. Lingua Franca is a term deriving from “Frankish language” and applying to a tongue spoken in ancient Mediterranean ports that consisted of a mixture of Italian, French, Greek, Spanish, and even some Arabic. Today it refers to a “common language,” a language used among speakers of different languages for the purposes of trade and commerce. A lingua franca represents linguistic diversity, as does a pidgin language, when parts of two or more languages are combined in a simplified str
The linguistic patterns of Nigeria
ucture and vocabulary, or a simplified version of a lingua franca. A creole language is similar to pidgin languages, but is unique in that it began as a pidgin language but was later adopted as the mother tongue by a people in place of the mother tongue (essentially a pidgin language becoming a new mother tongue).

Multilingualism is a concept that describes the ethnolinguistic diversity of a cultural group. Nations that speak only one language, or monolingual states, exist in very few and ambiguous numbers. No nation can be 100% monolingual, but the nations of Japan, Uruguay, Venezuela, Iceland, Denmark, Portugal, Poland, and Lesotho are overwhelmingly monolinguistic. These countries are marked by relatively homogeneous cultural groups with little extra-cultural mixing and diversity. Multilingual states, on the other hand, are countries in which more than one language is spoken. Multilingual states are often marked by much cultural diversity with a few, several, or many different cultural groups represented. An example described earlier on this page is Nigeria.

Global Languages

A global language is an overarching language that is used most commonly around the world; defined on the basis of either the number of speakers of the language, or prevalence of use in commerce and trade. The language with the most number of speakers is Chinese, follow by Arabic and then Hindi, but English is the global language of today. English has about 341 million speakers, seemingly insignificant next to China's 1.2 billion speakers, but English is the main language that commands commerce. 33% of internet users speak English, but nearly 70% of all internet content is in English, indicating its global prevalence. Furthermore, with nations such as the United States and the United Kingdom leading global society in popular culture as well as international politics and the global economy, English is very much today's global language.
Multilingualism is a global symbol of diversity

Some languages are oppressed, and are not even given an opportunity to flourish and potentially become a global language. The Proto-Indo-European Language family, branch, as it has been discussed, has many families and subfamilies, The sub-family with the most sub-branches is Indo- Iranian. Indo-Iranian is mostly spoken in West, Central and southern Asia, however it used to spread well into central Europe. Modern day branches of Indo-Iranian languages include Farsi, Sanskrit, Hindi and Kurdish. Kurdish stands out because is the language of the Kurds, a nationless ethnic group. Due to their lack of a nation, the Kurdish people have been banned from speaking their own language in the countries that they live in, which has been their homeland for thousands of years. Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq have severe legal punishments for speaking Kurdish, official reports show amputation, beating, and sometimes death for the simple act of communication. Kurdish is the last gift the Kurdish people have of their language, void of a homeland, government or recognition of being simply alive the ability to speak their language has also been taken away, this is a serious human rights violation because it takes away their right to live with dignity. No serious steps are being taken by the international community to stop the Kurdish Genocide or to bestow a sanctuary to the Kurds.

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Key Questions:
  1. What are languages, and what role do languages play in cultures?
  2. Why are languages distributed the way they are?
  3. How do languages diffuse?
  4. What role does language play in making places?

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