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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more



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Subject: Languages spoken only as second languages.
Question: My psychology professor stated that of the 200+ languages spoken in the USA; 176 are living languages, “3 are second languages without mother tongue speakers” and 52 are extinct. When I asked her which three were second languages only, she didn’t know the answer and challenged me to find out. I’ve spent the past day and a half searching the web and I’m still stumped. Please help.

Reply: If your report of your psych teacher's comment is accurate, I really cannot understand what he was saying. How can the 52 "extinct" languages be among the languages spoken in the USA? -- if a language is extinct that means it isn't spoken anywhere! And although in theory there can be languages which are only second languages and have no mother-tongue speakers at all, in practice this hardly ever happens, anywhere. Failing further and better information from the professor, my guess would be that he or she was trying to get away with parroting something he thought he read in some book and never really thought about or understood properly. Even university professors do this sometimes!

Geoffrey Sampson
Reply From: Geoffrey Richard Sampson      click here to access email
 
Date: 26-Oct-2013
 
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Languages spoken only as second languages.    Susan D Fischer     (25-Oct-2013)
  2. Re: Languages spoken only as second languages.    Anthea Fraser Gupta     (26-Oct-2013)
  3. Re: Languages spoken only as second languages.    Elizabeth J Pyatt     (25-Oct-2013)

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