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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: Any figures of this preciseness are suspect. We do not know how many languages are spoken in any country. We are not even quite sure how to count languages. If the languages are spoken, they can't be extinct. Languages like Esperanto -- and even Klingon -- do have some native speakers, as parents who are keen on these invented languages do pass them down to their children. Even Latin may have some native speakers.

Your psychology professor should be able to tell you the source of this information, which is unlikely to be supported by strong data.

Anthea
Reply From: Anthea Fraser Gupta      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.    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (26-Oct-2013)
  3. Re: Languages spoken only as second languages.    Elizabeth J Pyatt     (25-Oct-2013)

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