The 26th of September is the European Day of Languages and, as such, it’s also a perfect excuse for language-lovers to partay – trust us, if we had our way, there’d be so many more events like this one on the calendar!
The European Day of Languages is celebrated every year since 2002 and was created by the Council of Europe in order to promote the benefits of language learning, the linguistic diversity of Europe and to encourage language learning among people of all ages.
These celebrations come in many forms – from competitions and fairs to conferences and workshops. If you’re wondering what you can do around your area, check out the Council of Europe’s event finder or simply Google “European Day of Languages” along with the name of your town or city. But before you do, start getting excited about the AWESOMENESS of September 26th with these 10 cool facts about European languages:
There are about 225 indigenous languages in Europe
This may seem like a lot, but it’s in fact just close to 3% of the world’s total!
Over half of EU citizens are bilingual
54% of Europeans speak a second language, while an impressive 25% can communicate in two foreign languages, according to an EU survey.
Languages are related to each other like the members of a family
Most European languages belong to the large Indo-European family that predominated in what is now the Middle East.
And most languages are actually first cousins
In general, European languages can be split into three broad groups: Germanic (German, Dutch, English, Danish…), Romance (Italian, Spanish, French, Rumanian…) and Slavic (Polish, Czech, Croatian, Russian…).
European languages love to borrow words from each other
For instance, French vocab is widely present in the English language, while English terms are largely spreading throughout all other languages. German also lends a lot of its wonderfully precise (and long!) words to many languages – wanderlust, anyone?
The non-European languages most widely used on European territory are Arabic, Chinese and Hindi
Due to the influx of migrants and refugees, Europe has become even more multilingual. In fact, in London alone some 300 languages are spoken!
Most countries in Europe have a number of regional or minority languages
Many of which have obtained official status. For instance, Spain establishes Spanish as its official language, but Galician, Basque and Catalan all have official regional status, with native speakers of these languages making up a rather high percentage of the country’s population.
But Russia takes this to a whole new level
With approximately 148 million inhabitants, Russia boasts the highest number of languages spoken on its territory: from 130 to 200 depending on the criteria.
Bilingualism – it’s rare to achieve perfection
On a native level, that is. Throughout Europe – and the rest of the world – there are many individuals who have two mother tongues and, although there can be ‘perfect bilinguals’ who speak two languages equally well, most bilinguals display no perfect balance between their two languages.
English remains the big favourite
It is the world’s lingua franca after all, and the status of English language in Europe is no different: it’s considered the most useful language, followed by French and German.
From boosting your memory as well as your problem-solving and critical-thinking skills to giving you amazing friends all over the world, speaking more than one language really is an amazing life hack. And, as you have seen above, with so many fascinating languages and cultures only a few hours away, Europe is an ideal place to further develop your skills and explore new possibilities!