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     Volume 4 Issue 12 | September 10, 2004 |

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What do languages mean to you? Why do people learn a second language? Bangladesh is famous for having fought for the right to use theirs. You might be reading this in your second language right now.

A. Try and answer the 10 questions below and then check your answers.

1. How many languages are spoken in the world today?
a. 745
b. 6, 800
c. 10, 500

2. What is the most widely spoken language?
a. Mandarin
b. Spanish
c. English

3. The Ter Sami language, spoken in central Russia, has how many speakers (according to the most recent census in 1993)?
a. 6
b. 60
c. 600

4. How many speakers of English as a second language are there in the world today?
a. 100 million
b. 200 million
c. 300 million

5. Many linguists estimate that … of the languages spoken today will be extinct by the year 2100
a. 10%
b. 25%
c. 50%

6. How many seriously endangered languages are there in Europe, according to a 1999 UNESCO report?
a. 5
b. 10
c. 26

7. Which is the biggest minority language in London?
a. Arabic
b. Turkish
c. Bengali/Sylheti

8. The Oxford English Dictionary is the standard reference work for the English language. How many new words has it identified in the last 13 years?
a. 124
b. 286
c. 435

9. Varieties of Gaelic are spoken in…
a. Scotland
b. France
c. Wales

10. What's the difference between a language, an accent and a dialect?
a. a guidebook
b. a newspaper
c. a leaflet explaining the education system.

B. Quickly read the following text and decide if it is from:

Language is a complex and often highly political issue in Scotland. If you're not from Scotland, you will be spoken to in a variety of English, spoken in a Scottish accent. However, you will hear phrases and words which are part of Scots, officially recognised as a language in its own right. Gaelic, too is a living language, especially in the Western Isles and Highlands.

Scots is spoken by a third of the Scottish population, around ______________ people. From the thirteenth until the ____________ centuries, it was the country's official language but since then it has been consciously and unconsciously repressed in preference to English. It is now enjoying a renaissance and was included in the school curriculum once more in ____________ despite the fact that many people regard it only as a dialect of English.

Scottish Gaelic (with Welsh, Breton and Irish Gaelic) is one of the four Celtic languages to survive into the twenty-first century. It is most closely related to Irish Gaelic not a surprise since it was introduced to Scotland from Ireland around the __________ century BC. From the 5th to the ________ centuries, Gaelic gradually became the national language but then declined. After the failure of the final Jacobite rebellion in __________, Gaelic was banned and the ___________ Education Act gave no official recognition to the language children were severely punished if they spoke it at school. There are currently__________Gaelic-speakers in the traditional Gaelic-speaking areas, with around 250,000 people in an extended community who have a limited understanding of the language. Gaelic has experienced a revival recently with the opening of bilingual nursery and primary schools and more pupils studying the language at secondary school.

But wherever you go in Scotland there will always be a warm welcome despite (or because of?) the language

C. Now fill in the gaps with the following numbers:

86,000 18th 1745 1996
3rd 1.5 million 12th 1872

D. Now decide if the following statements are true or false.
a. Scots is a dialect of English.
b. Gaelic is a Celtic language.
c. Breton is a variety of Gaelic is also spoken in parts of France.
d. Gaelic went to Ireland from Scotland.
e. As Scots became more popular, Gaelic declined.
f. In the 19th century it was illegal to speak Gaelic.
g. Now no children study Gaelic at school.

What do you think of when you think about your native language? How would you describe it's history, and it's importance to you and your fellow speakers? Are there regional dialects? Do some places have famous/distinct local accents? Talk about these ideas with a friend then try to write a brief summary of your conversation.


A: 1b, 2 a, 3 a, 4 c, 5 c, 6 c, 7 c, 8 b, 9 a,b&c
10. An accent refers to a different pronunciation, with a dialect there is a difference in grammar and vocabulary but speakers can still understand each other whereas users of different languages cannot understand each others spoken or written language.

B: a
C: In the following order: 1.5 million, 18th, 1996, 3rd, 12th, 1745, 1872, 86,000
D: b,c,e,f,& g


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