The figures refer to the number of people who have the language as their first language. If those speakers who have learnt the language as a foreign language were to be included, English might be at the top of the list.
Arabic would be among the 10 most widely spoken languages, if it were to be counted as one language. Ethnologue lists ten variants of spoken Arabic among its top 100. The biggest of these is Egyptian Arabic with 42.5 million speakers. If they were to be counted as one and the same language, Arabic would come out sixth with 175 million speakers, and Wu would drop out of the top ten.
These figures are from 1999, so some languages may have shifted positions on the list for demographical reasons, and then particularly in positions 4 through 7, where also Arabic might turn up, see above.
Linguistics is the general term for the science of human speech, languages, and communication. Particular subjects
within linguistics include; phonetics and phonology (concerning sound), morphology and syntax (concerning forms of
words and grammatical structures), and semantics and pragmatics (concerning meaning and usage). These subject
areas are may be viewed from physical, biological, psychological and social perspectives.
Fileds within linguistics are e g neurolinguistics, where the neurological foundations for development and use of language in man are studied. special attention is given to the brain's control of processes of speech and understanding.
Other fields are psycholinguistics och sociolinguistics.
Psycholinguistics is the study of relations between linguistic behaviour and the underlying psychological processes (whta happens in the brain when we speak? how does language affect what we think?).
Sociolinguistics is the study of the social role of the language and relations between language and society.
There is also a field called computational linguistics, where linguistics and computing science are combined aiming to get computers to understand and process human language.
A: Langauges are fairly complicated systems, you know. One reason why learning grammar is both good and necessary is that the different parts of the grammar are linked to one another, there's a system in every language. I we learn to make sense of that system in our own language, it will be much easier to learn other languages at school. And once you've learned to make sense of the system, grammar is really fun!
A: The language in Yugoslavia, i e in Serbia and Montenegro, is mainly Serbian. In Serbia there are two larger linguistic minorities, who speak Albanian (in Kosovo) and Hungarian (in Vojvodina). There are also minorities who speak other languages, e g Romani and Yiddish.
Serbian is a South Slavic language which is written in the Cyrillic alphabet, but it can also be written using the Latin alphabet.
There are two important dialects, "Ekavian" and "Ijekavian".
A: Somewhat simplifyingly you could say that the Vikings spoke Old Norse which is the predecessor of the Nordc languages of today, i e Danish, Faroese, Icelandic, Norwegian and Swedish. The Vikings came from Denmark, Norway and Sweden and there were, in fact, some differences in the speech of these countries already in the agea of the Vikings. These differences, however, were relatively minor, and there are many indications that the Vikings themselves considered the langauge they spoke as being one and the same, regardless of where they came from. Swedish Vikings mainly ravaged eastward, while Danish and Norwegian Vikings mainly attacked the British Isles. This is also where Old Norse left its strongest traces, and the English spoken today still shows some Nordic traits. Thus, the pronouns "they", "their" and "them" have their roots in the Old Norse forms "þeirr", "þeirra" and "þeim" and the Englishmen who live in villages whose names end in e g "-thorpe" (Old Norse þorp = SWE/NOR/DAN "torp"), like Scunthorpe, and "-by" (= sv. "by"), as in Grimsby, can be fairly sure that Vikings ruled there about a millennium ago.
You can read about the language of the Vikings in the answer to FAQ #6 above.
Answers to questions like these are most conveniently found by looking them up in a printed dictionary, which usually can be found on a library shelf near you - at least for the main (most widely spoken) languages of European origin.
On the Internet, in addition there is the following resource, courtesy of Bucknell University in the United States which may be helpful: "A Web of On-line Dictionaries" - http://yourdictionary.com/
A:: Go to Questions and Answers about Language http://www.ling.gu.se/sprakfrageladan/, choose English and go to our Bank of Questions and see the answer to question #24. If you are interested in literature and/or want more links on this subject, look under Every Celtic Thing on the Web at http://og-man.net/ - you'll find the section "Languages" at http://og-man.net/ethlang.htm - and/or go to your nearest library. Good luck!
At "Foreign Languages for Travelers", http://www.travlang.com/languages/, you will find useful words, phrases and expressions in more than 70 languages. First you choose a language you speak, e g English, and then the language you are interested in.