Saturday, October 24, 2009
There is also a tendency to focus far too much on native speakers alone, which means that Turkish speakers in Germany, Bulgaria, Macedonia, etc. etc. etc. all get left out of the count. Usually when people look up the population numbers of a language though they are simply interested in how extensive the language is - how many people use it, not how many have grown up with it as a first language. Generally only linguists are interested in the second number.
There are also a few surprises in the list of languages spoken throughout the world - the language in 6th place in terms of population is actually Bengali, and Javanese and Wu are quite high up as well, which shows that numbers alone really don't mean a great deal - being used as an official language of a country, geographic extent, economic development and other factors are much more important. Bengali in 6th place is only spoken in Bengladesh and areas nearby, so only about twice this area:
and an economic clout less than that of Slovakia. Compare this to Turkish (and other Turkic languages) from the article:
The President of the Turkish Language Association Prof. Dr. Haluk Şükrü Akalın said that Turkish was spoken in a total area of 12 million square kilometres (note: that's the United States plus Argentina) and was in fifth place among languages of the world.The rest of the article is not interesting enough to translate as there are no extra numbers or new facts to report. However, for an overview on the position of Turkish in Central Asia and other parts of the world see a post here from last month. The biggest advantage that Turkish has is 1) being mostly mutually comprehensible with other Turkic languages, and 2) being the official language of a country that completely overshadows each and every other part of the world that uses a Turkic language. Romance languages on the other hand are generally less mutually comprehensible and also happen to be located in countries of relatively equal or similar influence and economic development, and as a result there is no clear "winner" that overshadows the rest. If Latin had remained the official languages of these countries it would have been the uncontested winner as a common tongue that could be used in almost all parts of the world, but looks like it wasn't meant to be.
Bülent Kılınç, the governor of Düzce, also gave a speech at the conference saying that "Turkish is spoken in just about every part of the world. However, we are causing our language to be forgotten through a daily loss of (proper) reading habits."