The Babbel Blog

language learning in the digital age

Languages, Dialects and accents – which one is yours?

Posted on February 21, 2014 by

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As today is International Mother Language Day, we wondered if it was possible to find the answer to a Bildschirmfoto 2014-02-20 um 17.21.35simple question – how many living languages are actually spoken around the world? Well, the most extensive source we could find is Ethnologue (published by SIL International). It maps the world’s languages and, as of 2013, includes 7,105 distinct languages. In 2009, by the way, only 6,912 living languages were listed. You can browse the maps on Ethnologue to see the different statistics for continents and regions. For example, there are only about 284 languages in Europe, whereas in Asia alone the website lists 2,304 separate languages.

Dialects are not to be confused with languages. A dialect is a variation of a language which differs from the so-called standard language in its pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar. If you want to learn more about dialects (and the differences between dialects and accents) check out our interview with actor and dialect coach Robert Easton from 2008. Robert was Al Pacino’s personal “Cuban-accent-coach” in “Scarface”!

As with languages and dialects, there’s also a distinction between dialects and accents. Check out the speech accent archive which is a compilation of almost 1,000 speech samples from all around the world. With all speakers reading the same English text, you’re able to hear just how much accents vary, even within a single English-speaking country. Just browse the world map and click on the flag corresponding to the location where the text was recorded.

By the way, be proud of your accent, it can be a great aphrodisiac! CNN compiled a list of the 12 sexiest accents on the planet. And anyway, if you don’t like your own accent, Babbel‘s voice-recognition tool and many prononciation exercices might just be able to help you out.

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Comments

sur un site de tele et je trouve ca bien j ai apris l italien

I have enjoy your articles, specially the one about Mother Language.
I am taking the Babel FRENCH course and love it.
My native language is Spanish and was wondering if I can get the classes in Spanish/French instead of English/French?
Love your blog,
Janice .

Hi Janice, great to hear it! If you go to ‘settings’, you can change your reference language. If you have any further questions you can send an email to support@babbel.com and they’ll help you out.

Really interesting. congratz!

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