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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Map showing geographical distribution of the dialects in Latvia
Latvian (latviešu valoda) is the official state language of Latvia. It is also sometimes referred to as Lettish. There are about 1.2 million native Latvian speakers in Latvia and 100 thousand abroad. Altogether, 1.9 million, or 79% of the population of Latvia, speak Latvian. Of those, 1.2 million use it as their primary language at home. The use of the Latvian language in various areas of social life in Latvia is increasing.

Latvian is a Baltic language and is most closely related to Lithuanian, although the two are not mutually intelligible. In addition there is some disagreement whether Latgalian and New Curonian, which are mutually intelligible with Latvian, should be considered varieties or separate languages.

Latvian first appeared in Western print in the mid-16th century with the reproduction of the Lord's Prayer in Latvian in Sebastian Münster's Cosmographia Universalis, in Latin script.

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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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In phonetics, a vowel is a sound in spoken language, such as an English ah! [ɑː] or oh! [oʊ], pronounced with an open vocal tract so that there is no build-up of air pressure at any point above the glottis. This contrasts with consonants, such as English sh! [ʃː], where there is a constriction or closure at some point along the vocal tract. A vowel is also understood to be syllabic: an equivalent open but non-syllabic sound is called a semivowel.

In all oral languages, vowels form the nucleus or peak of syllables, whereas consonants form the onset and (in languages that have them) coda. However, some languages also allow other sounds to form the nucleus of a syllable, such as the syllabic l in the English word table [ˈteɪ.bl̩] (the stroke under the l indicates that it is syllabic; the dot separates syllables), or the r in Serbo-Croatian vrt [vr̩t] "garden".

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Articles

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,Rajasthani, Sindhi, 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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