Busy Humans and The History of Spoken Language

Human beings are one of the few species capable of verbal speech. This is a characteristic that sets us apart from other mammals. Speech allows us to communicate with each other our thoughts, ideas, frustrations, and sentiments, without having to resort to physical interactions or altercations.

The precise origins of human speech are not known and perhaps will never be known. There are over 5000 languages spoken in the world today, and there have been more throughout history which have since become extinct languages (no longer spoken). These languages are usually grouped into about 20 language families based on common constructions, words, etc. Currently, the working theory is that the languages in each family descended from a common ancestor language.

A Little History

Here’s a little history on some of the world’s language families.
Indo-European: This group of languages is spoken by about half of today’s population. Believed to have originated about 3000 BC, this language family may have been spread from Eastern Europe and Western Asia by wandering nomads.

Semitic: Semitic peoples (Babylonians, Hebrews, Assyrians, etc.) in the west of Asia helped developed Aramaic, which was the standard language in the Middle East for many centuries.
Niger-Congo: Over one-third of the 5000 languages spoken today are in Africa. The Niger-Congo language family contains over 1500 languages, spoken mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. Very few Niger-Congo grammar references were published prior to the nineteenth century.

How Does This Relate to Translation and Localization?

The advent of speech has made possible the hectic lives that many humans now lead in modern society. Speech is also subject to constant evolution, like a living organism. New words and phrases are being minted all the time throughout across different languages and cultures.

Clearly, there are so many languages spoken today that, in order to reach a more global market and customer base, it is a wise investment for companies to translate and localize marketing materials. Translation is important so that the message of the content can be read and understood by those who may speak or read a language in another language family. Localization is important in order to remain culturally relevant and sensitive to other nations, while not diluting your brand voice. It is essential to keep up with the latest translation industry trends as it pertains to language evolution, so you can properly accommodate clients and customers.
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