24, 2001 Volume 1 Issue 9
How many is enough?
How many is too many?
The subject is languages.
There is agreement Mandarin Chinese is spoken by more people than any
language on earth ... 885 million people. Out of 6+ billion about 15%
of the earths peoples speak Mandarin.
The 885 number gives us another interesting thought. There are over 1.2
billion people living in mainland China. And many more Chinese in other
parts of Asia. Conclusion; several different languages, many variations
on Mandarin, are also spoken by the Chinese.
After Mandarin Chinese the next most "popular" ... meaning
spoken by the most people ... are Spanish, English, Arabic, Bengali, Hindi,
Portuguese, Russian, Japanese and German. In that order. Notice what is
NOT on the list; French. Oh, I'd bet a good dinner those folks are soooo
unhappy! Yet, that's how it is.
What is even more interesting is English is a second language to more
than any other ... 350 million. English as a native tongue to fewer folks;
The combination puts English in third place worldwide.
So, the top 10 languages make up the bulk of communication worldwide.
Any guess as to how many total languages are spoken in the world today?
Just for fun I asked a group of friends their best guess. The biggest
number was 500. Not even close.
The real number; 6,800! WOW!
Most of these 6,800 are spoken by small bands of people in rather isolated
areas. Amazingly, 110 languages are spoken on the tiny South Pacific Ocean
archipelago of Vanuatu. Why? ... I have no idea. When I went snorkeling
there a while back everyone I needed to speak to spoke English.
There are "unique" languages spoken on the Isle of Man, in
Malta, within mountain regions of the Alps and the Andes. And scores in
India. With something like 2 dozen being "official".
In 1492 when Columbus landed in what we now call the USA there were 300
languages found within the land. Today there are only 6 spoken by 10,000
people or more.
Language is words. So, a few more stats; English has in the neighborhood
of 625,000 words. Spanish is next in line with close to 475,000 words.
In comparison Japanese and French each have less than 100,000.
For a long while I wrote for a client in Tokyo. In English. They translated
into Japanese. More than once we heard back ... "wish we had words
to say in Japanese what you wrote in English. We don't have as many words".
Well, the fact that English has many words to select from is good news.
And, not so good news. Why? Because English has so many words we have
choice. We have many different ways to say the same thing. Makes us more
Yet, for many, maybe even most! and certainly including yours truly -
we don't always make the best choice. Might be better to have fewer words
we knew how to use, than thousands and we choose wrong.
This, combined with the fact the 500 most common words in English have
13,000 meanings!, makes communication difficult. Yes, I said 500 = 13,000.
Is it any wonder we have mis-understandings between peoples ... between
Oh, and there's another thing; bear or bare. Hair or hare. Their or there.
Here or hear. New or knew. See or sea. Or the letter "c". Words
pronounced the same way, spelled differently. Of course, each with a different
meaning. And in English there are dozens of pairs just like these.
A quote from Henry Adams fits here; "No one means all he says, yet
very few say all they mean, for words are slippery and thought is viscous."
Now, where am I going with this? Well, there is a movement afoot to save,
keep and even re-develop languages. The thought is over the next 100 years
half of all the languages on earth will disappear. Those concerned think
that is a bad thing.
What do I think; I think it is a VERY GOOD THING! I'd like to see us
have a single language. This is not the 10th or 17th or even 20th Century.
This is the 21st Century. With transportation and communications refined
to a decent standard during the last 100 years, the last thing we need
is a collection of languages that makes understanding more difficult.
We need ONE to make it easy!
Who gets to chose the one language? It has already been chosen. It is
English. And no, the Americans didn't do it. The British took their English
language around the globe. Formed the Commonwealth. And soon the sun never
set on the British Empire.
WWI and WWII did affect the spread of English. And certainly the Americans
were involved in spreading it more ... particularly during the last 50
years. Yet, it was the Brits who began it all and made it happen.
English IS the language understood most in diplomatic circles. Sorry,
France - it isn't French any longer. English is the language used by travelers
worldwide. Even the French and Italian national airlines must use English
for air communication.
And English is the language of business, too. My Asian, South America
and Europe business meetings have always been in English. For the last
2 decades of my worldwide speaking and consulting. Sure, there may be
a few who need a translator. More and more today that is an infrequent
request. The English language rules.
If this was ever in doubt the Internet changed any hesitancy. The WWW
was a move that began in America - yet, soon it went worldwide. And yes,
certainly, there are web sites in other tongues. Today there must be.
When our great-great grandchildren are running things, there will hopefully
be only one.
Somewhere between 4,000 and 9,000 languages have disappeared over the
last 5 centuries. War, genocide, governmental bans, and more. The reasons
why are not nice. The facts don't change. Today - in 2001 - we do not
need 6,800 languages. We don't need 68 languages. We need
My thought is controversial. People much more studied than I disagree.
Feel we'll lose culture when we lose language. Hey, we're already losing
culture. Television, satellites and 747's made certain of that beginning
two full generations ago. Let's live with it, and make it work.
This topic might be fun to bounce around again. If you've another point
of view, or anything to share, send me an E-mail; Ray@RayJutkins.com.
I'll save, summarize and bring the thoughts to you in a later edition
of The Works of Marketing with Ray.
Marketing with Ray on the RAYdio
Ray is doing radio.
Internet Radio through INB Internet Radio Network
For the motorcycle riders in the audience, Big Bikes & Trikes
on the RAYdio - a weekly 60 minute program about bikes, bikers, rallies
and such, might be interesting. Over the next few weeks I'm reporting
from the National Bikers Round-Up ... a family event set in beautiful
central California - in Madera. From a special fund raiser in Jackson
Hole, Wyoming, with a great name ... The Wicked Ride of the West.
Next week the program is from Williams, Arizona and the Arizona State
Harley Owners Group Rally. This week from The Barber Vintage Motorsports
Museum in Birmingham, Alabama -- a wondrous place with 650 motorcycles.
for the full schedule And INB Radio - Big Bikes and Trikes - www.inbradio.com/bigbikes/
- to catch all WebCasts. New programming goes on-line every Tuesday.
Oh, and I'll "see" you on the RAYdio!
The Joy of Change
We have a new telephone area code: 928.
Which means just about everything we own must be changed. At no small
expense, either. So be it.
The 928 number is now active ... and so is the old 520. The old
is scheduled to hang around until the end of 2001 ... and then disappear.
What is also disappearing is our old fax number. With E-mail fulfilling
so many options, we've decided to offer only a single fax number; +1+928+244-6148.
If you'd like to update all your records now, here is our current info;
RAYdio E-mail; Ray@INB.net
Direct eFax: +1+928+244-6148
a Direct Marketing & Sales organisation
Roll, Arizona 85347-7066 USA