Portal:Language

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The Language portal

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A language is a system of symbols, generally known as words, and the grammatical and other rules by which they are manipulated. The word language is also used to refer to the whole phenomenon of language, and in this sense language is one of several forms of human communication. The scientific study of language and languages, including their historical development, characteristics, and use in society, is the field of linguistics.

Human language is a natural phenomenon, and language learning is instinctive in childhood. In using language, people use patterns of sound or gesture to convey the words and rules of language, or they represent these patterns in codes such as writing. There are thousands of languages, historically related to each other in many language families, and they share a number of common properties. Besides using naturally acquired language, people have consciously crafted languages such as Esperanto and Klingon.

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Nahua woman from the Florentine Codex. The speech scroll indicates that she is speaking.
Nahuatl (/ˈnɑːwɑːtəl/; Nahuatl pronunciation: [ˈnaːwatɬ] ( )) is a language of the Nahuan branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family. It is spoken by an estimated 1.5 million Nahua people, most of whom live in Central Mexico; some who live in El Salvador are known as the Pipil people. All Nahuan languages are indigenous to Mesoamerica.

Nahuatl has been spoken in Central Mexico since at least the 7th century AD. It was the language of the Aztecs who dominated what is now central Mexico during the Late Postclassic period of Mesoamerican history. During the centuries preceding the Spanish conquest of Mexico, the Aztec Empire had expanded to incorporate most of Mexico, and its influence caused the variety of Nahuatl spoken by the residents of Tenochtitlan to become a prestige language in Mesoamerica. At the conquest, with the introduction of the Latin alphabet, Nahuatl also became a literary language, and many chronicles, grammars, works of poetry, administrative documents and codices were written in it during the 16th and 17th centuries. This early literary language based on the Tenochtitlan variety has been labeled Classical Nahuatl and is among the most studied and best-documented languages of the Americas.

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The Rosetta Stone in the British Museum
Credit: © Hans Hillewaert

The Rosetta Stone is an ancient Egyptian granodiorite stele inscribed with a decree issued at Memphis in 196 BC on behalf of King Ptolemy V. The decree appears in three scripts: the upper text is Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, the middle portion Demotic script, and the lowest Ancient Greek.

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Interactive totems in the museum allow access to multimedia information about the languages that influenced the formation of the present day Portuguese language.
The Museum of the Portuguese Language (Portuguese: Museu da Língua Portuguesa; Brazilian Portuguese: [muˈzew dɐ ˈlĩgwɐ puʁtuˈgezɐ]) is an interactive Portuguese language — and Linguistics/Language Development in general — museum in São Paulo, Brazil. It is housed in the Estação da Luz railway station, in the urban district of the same name. The choice of the building for the launching of the museum is connected to the fact that it was mainly here that thousands of non-Portuguese speaking immigrants arriving from Europe and Asia into São Paulo via the Port of Santos got acquainted with the language for the first time. The idea of a museum-monument to the language was conceived by the São Paulo Secretary of Culture in conjunction with the Roberto Marinho Foundation, at a cost of around 37 million reais.

The objective of the museum is to create a living representation of the Portuguese language, where visitors may be surprised and educated by unusual and unfamiliar aspects of their own native language. Secondly, the caretakers of the museum, as expressed on the official website, "desire that, in this museum, the public has access to new knowledge and reflection in an intense and pleasurable manner," as it notices the relationship of the language with others, as well as its proto-languages. The museum targets the Portuguese speaking population, made up of peoples from many regions and social backgrounds, but who still have not had the opportunity to gain a broader understanding of the origins, the history and the continuous evolution of the language.

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Languages of the world
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Languages of Africa: Arabic, Komering, Chadic, Cushitic, Kanuri, Maasai, Setswana, Swahili, Turkana, Xhosa, Yoruba, Zulu, more...

Languages of the Americas: Aleut, Carib, Cherokee, Inuktitut, Iroquois, Kootenai, Mayan, Nahuatl, Navajo, Quechuan, Salish, American Sign Language, more...

Languages of Asia: Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew, Hindustani, Kannada, Marathi, Korean, Kurdish, Malayalam, Mongolian, Persian, Sanskrit, Tamil, Tanchangya, Telugu, Tibetan, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese, Khowar, more...

Languages of Austronesia: Austric, Fijian, Hawaiian, Javanese, Malagasy, Malay, Maori, Marshallese, Samoan, Tahitian, Tagalog, Tongan, Auslan, more...

Languages of Europe: Basque, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English (book), French, German, Greek, Italian, Latin, Leonese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, more...

Constructed languages: Esperanto, Ido, Volapük, more...


Language types

Agglutinative language, Analytic language, Constructed language, Creole, Context-free language, Extinct language, Dialect, Fusional language, Inflectional language, International language, Isolating language, Language isolate, National language, Natural language, Pidgin, Pluricentric language, Polysynthetic language, Proto-language, Sign language, Spoken language, Synthetic language, Variety (linguistics)


Linguistics (Outline, Portal, Book)
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Applied linguistics, Cognitive linguistics, Accent (dialect), Computational linguistics, Descriptive linguistics, Eurolinguistics, Generative linguistics, Historical linguistics, Lexicology, Lexical semantics, Morphology, Onomasiology, Phonetics, Phonology, Pragmatics, Prescription, Prototype semantics, Psycholinguistics, Semantics, Stylistics, Sociolinguistics, Syntax

See also: List of linguists


Writing systems
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Alphabets: Arabic alphabet, Cyrillic alphabet, Hebrew alphabet, Latin alphabet, more...

Other writing systems: Abjad, Abugida, Braille, Hieroglyphics, Logogram, Syllabary, SignWriting, more..

See also: History of the alphabet, Script

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