Hugs for Daneen, Gretchen, and Ann Aberg
The two years of high school Latin I studied provided me with an excellent background for my studies in medical lab technology and occupational therapy. But Latin is not a spoken language.
I found little personal value in the German I studied in college. There was no reason why I selected German. I could have flipped a coin, or the class could have fit my schedule best.
Linguists estimate there are six to seven thousand languages that are spoken in today’s world. Some of these are dialects in the process of diverging into separate languages.
About 200 languages have a million or more native speakers.
Would it surprise you to learn that English is the third most spoken language (numbers from year 2000)?
- Mandarin Chinese was the forerunner language, having 874 million native speakers—16 countries had a substantial number of native speakers.
- Hindi (India), with 355 million native speakers, is a distant second. Seventeen countries have a substantial number of native speakers.
- English trails third, with 341 million native speakers. There are a substantial number of native speakers in 104 countries*
The daily prompt posed on February 10, 2014, by the WordPress blog host site, was: If you could wake up tomorrow and be fluent in any language you don’t currently speak, which would it be? Why? What’s the first thing you do with your new linguistic skills?
The globe called earth has 77 million native speakers, with 53 countries having a substantial number of native speakers in the language I would choose. It claims the 11th spot on the list.* And that language Is French.
I should have chosen French in college, but I couldn’t foresee any reason to do so. But life and times change things.
My regular readers know I am writing a historical romance novel tied in the 1790s. My main character is a French woman, Madame de Leval, who came to the United States to escape the French Revolution and immediately became involved in land speculation in Maine with Gen. Henry Knox and William Duer.
NOTE: Madame would likely have dined at the Café Procope before she left Paris.
Because the novel is historical and I respect the historicity, and because Madame is from France and has limited command of English, I’ve found myself immersed in numerous documents, publications, and books written in French.
Being able to speak French would allow me to converse with French persons who could offer me insight into the background issues or France.
The first thing I would do if I woke up fluent in French is to call Jocelyn Moreau-Zanelli, a French author from Paris who wrote Gallipolis:un mirage américain au XVIIIe siècle, a book about the land speculation Madame was involved with (written in French). The difference is that she had access to the French documents, while my access is mostly United States documentation.
My second choice would be Swedish, which is not among the top 15 languages having native speakers.
I have discovered relatives there, and it would be great to enter a trans-Atlantic telephone conversation with them. Again, I’ve received letters throughout the years, written in Swedish.
I’ve used a number of Swedish persons to translate them. Church of the Savior in Cleveland Heights has a number of Swedish members; for a couple of years I typed the content into an email and sent it to a student in Sweden; a local Lutheran pastor and a local Swedish friend helped for a while, and a Swedish immigrant I met at a family reunion in Lamoine, Maine, translated one letter.
Speaking the language would add so much benefit to my Swedish communication.
My third choice would be German, which holds the 9th spot on the native speakers list with 100 million native speakers in 40 countries having a substantial number of native speakers.*
I didn’t realize while studying German that I have German ancestry—I learned that years later—over 55 years. I learned of the Rugh and Mechling 1770 settlers of Hempfield Township in Westmoreland County (PA) around 2001, a year after my husband and I spent two weeks in Munich—where not speaking the language was somewhat of a handicap.
There you have it—my top three language choices should I wake up fluent in some foreign tongue.
What language would you choose, and why?