This cool map makes me want to learn all the languages (except Estonian maybe)

Looky! I got quite excited looking at this map last night (NERD, I know). Remember how we have previously covered how languages are easier or harder for you as an English speaker?

If yes, you will know that shared vocabulary is one of the most important things to consider in language choice.

Shared vocabulary - a language shortcut

Shared Vocab, or "vocabularly divergence" for linguists, means how many words in languages are shared or used to be the same hundreds of years ago. Languages come in families, they are related and they share common roots - a bit like real families.

Knowing more about the relations between different languages is not just interesting, but also extremely helpful. If you choose to study a language which belongs to your native language family, you can have an easier time learning new words. This is because you already know them. The grammar will also feel a little more familiar, and so on. In short, many people consider closely related languages easier to learn.


Let's take a look

So, above you see a few families of languages. English sits at the centre, but this one is much cooler than just looking at how easy it is to learn German or French.

Just look at how many languages there are in the world!! And think of

  • how half of Wales is learning Welsh even though that's not even a particularly related language for English speakers?

  • how Greek and English apparently have nothing in common?

  • how brave I am for attempting Russian?

  • why no one is learning Swedish when it looks like it'd be so easy?

Even if there is hardly any link on this chart, that doesn't mean you don't find a few words that are familiar.

Like, in Russian "office" is kabinyet (кабинет) - sounds like cabinet to me, which sort of means cupboard...there we go, shared vocab!

What remains to say that a map like this is really just an excellent thing to geek out about, and then remember there's so much choice and every language has a merit.

Many thanks to the talented Chris Workman for finding this image and sharing it on Facebook.