With more than 7,000 languages spoken in the world, there are some fascinating gems about language floating around. In our day to day work translating and localising marketing content for the hospitality and tourism industry, we have come across some morsels that will interest even the most hard-core trivia buffs.
You might know that the Bible is the most translated text in the world, but do you know what the most translated website is?
From the longest word in the English language, to the extinct languages in the world, here are 10 great language facts:
(1) Top Translated Language In Demand: Mandarin Chinese
Speaking of Mandarin, more than 1.3 billion people in the world speak Mandarin, making it the language most popularly requested for translation. On the internet, Mandarin speakers make up about one-fifth of all users!
(2) The Most Translated Website In The World
If you thought that the most translated website was Google, you're wrong. Instead, that title belongs to the Jehovah’s Witnesses website, which was translated into more than 1006 languages!
Second on the list is Wikipedia, which trails behind with 287 languages.
(3) Longest Word In The English Language?
If you’re a Mary Poppins fan, you might be able to spell ‘supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’. With 34 letters, it definitely counts as one of the longest words in the English language.
But, the winner of the ‘Longest Word in the English language’, belongs to a medical term:
Referring to a disease caused by the inhalation of silica or quartz dust, the term has a mind-boggling 45 letters!
P.S. Ironically, the fear of long words also comes with its own impressively-long name: Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia !
(4) The Longest Name Of A Place
When it comes to the longest city name, you might be familiar with the Welsh town of Llanfairpwll-gwyngyllgogerychwyrndrob-wllllantysiliogogogoch. Back in 2015, the town was covered by international media for its complex pronunciation. (Still not sure how to pronounce it? Watch it on YouTube!)
The longest name of a place in the world actually belongs to a hill in New Zealand.
With 85 characters, ‘Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu’ is a hill in southern Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand.
A translation of the Māori sentence “hence the name indicating the hill on which Tamatea, the chief of great physical stature and renown, played a lament on his flute to the memory of his brother". It’s a story in a word about the chief and explorer, Tamatea.
(5) Number Of Languages Spoken Within The United States
The United States Census Bureau stated in 2015 that there were about 350 languages spoken within the United States, with more than 150 different Native North American languages. The most diverse metro area?
New York Metro Area, where a whopping 192 languages are spoken, and 38% of the population speaks in another language other than English at home.
(6) The Number Of Extinct Languages In The World
On the other hand, there are more than 230 languages that have gone extinct from 1950 to 2010. Unfortunately, UNESCO’s Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger also list more than 2,000 languages that are endangered.
There are levels of endangerment, but the importance lies in the language being spoken by more than one generation, especially children. The language should also be spoken frequently and without interruptions.
(7) How Often Is The Dictionary Updated?
‘The dictionary’ tends to conjure up a huge tome that you refer to frequently. You may think that it hasn’t changed since you last read it.
In reality, the different dictionaries are constantly updating their list of terms and words, with the Oxford English Dictionary updating their list on a quarterly basis.
Most recent additions in the June 2020 edition?
Words such as ‘LOL’ and ‘plant-based’!
(8) Most Translated Word On Google Translate
For casual speakers, Google Translate tends to be the first port of call when translating a sentence. In 2017, the Google News Lab teamed up with data visualization company Virtual Cinnamon to find the most common word put through Google Translate.
The winner? ‘Beautiful’, followed by ‘Good’, ‘Love’, and ‘Mama’!
Isn’t it lovely how the common factor focuses on positive terms?
(9) How Many Fake Languages Are There?
You might be familiar with Klingon or Dothraki, but there are more than 1,000 fictional languages that have been proposed since the 17th century. Many of the recent ones have been created with the help of linguists, and are published for anyone who wants to learn them. So, you can go learn Elvish or Na’vi if you want to!
(10) Top Languages Used On Facebook And Twitter
If you thought that Facebook and Twitter were mostly English-based, with most users in the United States, you would be wrong. 50% of the Facebook Community speaks a language other than English, with the top languages being English, Spanish, Portuguese, Indonesian, and French.
For Twitter, the platform supports more than 40 languages, with the most popular being English (31.8%), Japanese (18.8%), and Spanish (8.46%).
The Changing Importance Of Languages Over Time
As languages continue to shift and change, businesses looking to internationalise their offerings will need to make sure that their content speaks to their target audiences in their preferred languages.
Working with a Language Service Provider (LSP) who has linguistic teams with boots on the ground will allow businesses to ensure authenticity and relevance.
By overcoming any culture barriers, you create that perfect customer experience journey on all touchpoints (digital and offline).