The most linguistically unified vs. least linguistically unified continents - a quick overview

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Here's another link I've had up for a while now that I haven't yet mentioned, and now can't even remember where I first saw it. It's a simple image showing the top languages spoken per continent, and can serve as a general overview on which continents are linguistically unified vs. those that aren't.

Africa here is obviously the least unified, with Arabic as the largest at 17%, Swahili at 8% and French at 6%, but Other makes up a full 58%.

The most unified would certainly be Latin America (which here includes Mexico and Central America, so not just South America) with Spanish at 58% and Portuguese at 33%, with Other at just 6%. North America is pretty much the same with mostly English (70%) while Other is a tad larger at 17%.

Europe shows why IALs are still most popular there, with a large number of relatively strong languages. Russian, German, Turkish, English, Italian, French, Polish, and Spanish are all quite strong, and make up a number of language families as well (Romance, Germanic, Turkic, Slavic). At the same time though there's a lot of historical influence and borrowing in this region which is why it isn't too hard to come up with common vocabulary for an auxiliary language. Compare that to Asia, where the only real common influential language is Chinese, and thus an auxiliary language drawing from this would simply end up with a ton of Sinitic words, and no common non-Sinitic words from other languages. Maybe the rare kaban/kabang (bag in Japanese and Korean), and words representing water having the word mi (the Japanese word for water is mizu, in Korean it's mul and apparently used to be mi, and a lot of Japanese words to do with water have mi at the end) but that's about it.

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