The Weekend Assignment: Language

This week’s Weekend Assignment revolves around the theme of language. What is considered a language? How many languages are there in the world? What language has the largest alphabet? These are a few questions you could dive into.


Before you briefly become a linguist this weekend let’s explore the previous assignment on community.

In archeology there are two definitions of a community. The first being the informal definition for a place where people used to live, such as a settlement, hamlet, or village. The second meaning defines a community as people living near one another who interact socially.

In Ecology a community is seen as a group of different species interacting with each other, and these interactions could be adversarial or symbiotic. A great example of a symbiotic community would be coral reefs.

Another example would be microbiomes found in the gut. This community of microorganisms work and help with an animal’s digestive systems. That is why eating probiotic foods will help keep your gut bacteria healthy and happy.

Since the rise of the internet and the world wide web the definition of a community has expanded. There are whole communities on the internet that form around common interests and members might never physically meet each other.

A good example of an online community is our very own. We are one big community of learners from all walks of life and located all over the world. So say hello in the comments and let’s get to know each other and maybe even discuss the current Weekend Assignment.


Share what you learn with us on Twitter by tagging us and using #SaylorAssignment or start the conversation on Discourse.

Top Comments

  1. Some people are born linguists. I am in aw of those who can speak in 6-8 languages. Those are the people I most enjoy traveling with! I struggle with basic Spanish. I can ask a question, be understood and I can understand the response. I am lost in a conversation, still translating in my head while the conversation is three sentences ahead of me.

    What is considered a language? I think the best way to describe a "language" is, any verbal communication that is understood by two or more. Mandarin has the largest population of Native speakers at 14% of the worlds population, with English Native speakers ranking third in the world.

    How many languages are there in the world? The Ethnologue states there are 7100 distinct languages. This number increases as new languages are found. In 2009 the number of languages was 6909 so the have been some new discoveries in the last few years. At the same time, the number is also decreasing as native languages are abandoned for more economical advantages of English or Mandarin. I see this with the Native Indian population here in Canada.

    My mother's native language is French but she never spoke French to me or my siblings. In the culture of her adult life, English was the chosen language. She still speaks French, but only to her siblings. French will never become extinct, but my mothers choice was a simple example of how easily languages, and the lack of, can form your life.

  2. Language is universal. Knowing other languages
    Can prove to be helpful.in certain instances. When you have someone come in to where come in where you work and need help and do not speak the do not speak the English language what do you do try to find an interpreter in most cases most businesses have interpreters in house to assist with these type of issues it can be frustrating if someone does not understand what you are saying and you don't understand them. A lot of people speak their native tongue and English.

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