2 700 languages spoken in the world
The “invention” of language is not known except for references in the Bible. It is not known what language Adam and Eve spoke. The first mention of different languages is the reference to the tower of Babel when different tongues were bestowed.
The invention of writing, however, is credited to the Sumerians of Mesopotamia in the 4th millennium BC. Their descendants, the Sumero-Babylonians, developed the time system that we use today: an hour divided into 60 minutes, which are divided into 60 seconds.
Today, there are more than 2,700 different languages spoken in the world, with more than 7,000 dialects, 7,117 of which are catalogued by the Ethnologue language dictionary.
In Indonesia alone, 365 different languages are spoken.
More than 1,000 different languages are spoken in Africa. In fact, just the Niger-Congo languages number 1,526 altogether.
The most difficult language to learn, probably, is Basque, which is spoken in north-western Spain and south-western France. It is not related to any other language in the world.
English is the most spoken language in the world, mostly as a second language. As home language (first language, native language or mother tongue), Mandarin is the most spoken in the world.
Youngest language in the world
The youngest language in the world is Afrikaans, a West Germanic language spoken by approximately 7 million people in South Africa (more than 6 million speakers), Namibia (more than 200,00 speakers) and more than 100,000 expats in Australia, New Zealand, UK and the United States.
Afrikaans is the 69th most spoken language in the world.
Dutch and German Protestants fled persecution from the Roman Catholic Church in the 17th and 18th century to settle in the Dutch colony of Cape of Good Hope on the southern point of Africa. By the early-20th century Afrikaans had developed from Dutch, German and other influences into a fully fledged language with its own dictionaries. It is the third most spoken language in South Africa (Zulu being the most spoken, the Zulu people being the largest ethnic group there).
Tamil is the oldest spoken language in the world, first appearing over 5,000 years ago.
Tamil is the first language of more than 75 million Tamil people in India and Sri Lanka. It is also used as a second language by 6 million others.
New languages develop as different cultures meet and mix. For instance, about 700 different languages are spoken in London.
In some suburbs of big cities like London and New York, English is now a second language. The same is happening – or has taken place – in cities such as Los Angeles, Miami and Singapore.
Already the Internet and mobile phone texting are influencing the development of languages as people communicate freely across cultural and regional borders. New languages are bound to develop out of these massive meetups.
The smallest country in the world is the Vatican. It also is the only country where Latin is the official language.
Somalia is the only country in the world where all the citizens speak one language, Somali.