Icelandic is a language derived from the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. Icelandic texts have been traced back to the 12th century, but the language has been around for longer, with poetry and laws passed down orally. Today, Icelandic is spoken by about 330,000 people, primarily in Iceland where it is the official language. There are also small communities of speakers in Denmark (8,000), the US (5,000) and Canada (1,400). Although the language is in decline in some regions of Iceland, there are centers and councils dedicated to preserving the language, and they celebrate Icelandic Language Day on November 16th each year.
Indonesian, also called Bahasa Indonesian, is a standardized version of Malay, a language from the Austronesian language family. Malay has been used in Indonesia as a “lingua franca,” or common language, for centuries in order for Indonesians to communicate despite more than 700 native languages. When the country gained independence in 1945, the language was already widespread and in use as the common language. Although the majority of the population did not speak Indonesian, it was chosen because it was easy to learn and it had attributes of various native languages and cultures. Today, Indonesian is spoken by almost 200 million people, for many as a second language.
Italian is a Romance language from the Indo-European family that dates back to the 10th century, although it was not formalized until the early 14th century. The famous Tuscan poet Dante Alighieri is credited with formalizing the language by writing a collection of epic poems in his Florence dialect. The poems spread across Italy and the dialect quickly became a language that educated Italians could read, and became an official language of various Italian states. Today it is an official language in Italy, San Marino, Switzerland, and Vatican City, and is taught as a second language world-wide. Italian is spoken by more than 65 million native speakers and another 14 million second-language speakers.
And a surprise appearance from the letter:
Japanese is a language descendant from the Japonic, or Japanese-Ryukyuan family tree. Very little is known about the origins of Japanese language, but there have been substantial texts dating back to the 8th century, and words found in Chinese texts from the 3rd century. Some believe that the language came from settlers from continental Asia or the nearby Pacific islands, possibly in the 2nd century BCE. The Chinese writing system was adopted around the 8th century following the spread of Buddhism, but the characters had Japanese word order and grammar. The language continued to evolve, with great influence from Chinese between the 8th and 12th centuries, and many loan words from English in the past century. Today, Japanese is spoken by about 125 million people, primarily in Japan. It actually does not hold official status in any country, but it is the “de facto” (in practice) national language of Japan.
If you need anything translated into one of these languages, come on over to Lionbridge onDemand. Stay tuned for our next A-Z blog where we’ll tell you about the Lionbridge languages that begin with “H”.
(*These are the languages for which we have translators on staff and ready to go. If there is a language that you do not see on this list, you can put in a request and we can find and source a linguist for you.)