Have you ever wondered why to learn not so popular or less common Languages? What are the reasons to study uncommon foreign languages?
Foreign Languages can be broadly categorized in 3 groups.
A) Popular Foreign Languages
These languages are popular because of two reasons : Either they are widely spoken or/and offers plenty of career opportunities in foreign languages across the globe.
Here, the article Top 10 best Foreign Languages to Learn in India is a good start. French, German, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Japanese, Mandarin, or Korean are some of the popular choices. Italian, Portuguese, Persian, Turkish can also be added in this category, at least in India.
B) Less common or Not so Popular Foreign Languages
What do I mean by uncommon languages or not so popular languages? These languages are neither widely spoken nor offers same job opportunities like popular one. There’s also another way to look at the term “less common,” judging not by the number of native speakers but by academic popularity or opportunities in the Job market.
For example, 75% of school and college students in India who studied languages chose Spanish, French, or German. Those three languages combined, plus English, are spoken natively by less than 14% of the global population.
In comparison, two Indonesian languages i.e. Bahasa and Javanese have more native speakers than French and German, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone studying Javanese and Bahasa Indonesian anywhere. Other languages in this category include Malay, Vietnamese and Wu, each of which has more speakers than French.
Clearly, if you choose to focus on just popular or In-Demand or so called Best languages, you’ll be leaving out the vast majority of the world. It’s time to look elsewhere.
There are several foreign languages can be considered in the category of less common languages.
- West Asian Languages – Turkish, Pashto, etc.
- SouthEast Asian Languages – Bahasa, Javanese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Thai, Malay, Burmese.
- North Asian Languages – Tibetan, Mongolian, Wu, Cantonese.
- Slavic Languages – Bulgarian, Belarusian, Croatian, Czech, Polish, Slovak, Ukrainian.
- Finno-Ugric Languages – Finnish and Hungarian.
- Germanic / Scandinavian Languages – Afrikaans, Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish.
- Romance Languages – Romanian and Catalan.
- African Languages – Swahili, Hausa, Amharic, etc.
C) Minority Languages
These languages are spoken by a minority of the population of a territory/country. The total number of speakers of these minority languages are significantly low. About 3% of the world’s population accounts for 96% of all these minority or rarest languages spoken today.
According to ethnologue, There are more than 7,000 languages around the world. The Top 100 most spoken languages account for more than 90% of the world’s population.
In today’s globalised world, language usage is changing rapidly. More and more people are now learning popular and widely spoken languages. Most of these minority languages are endangered languages. As per NYT, Almost half of today’s living languages are in danger and will be extinct by the end of the 21st century.
The Benefits of Learning Languages Less Popular
Deciding to learn a less popular language for you may be like joining a secret cult. This is because, by the time you meet other members of the same language group and exchange words, people around you will think you’re communicating in some kind of coded or mystic language.
Yeah, it certainly sounds a bit overwhelming and discouraging. And you’ll always have valid concerns on how to tackle this new language that is less commonly spoken. But hey, there is a lot of benefits in learning a less popular language, and the advantages thereof far outweigh the fear you might be having.
Imagine you’re on a train or a bus a few years from now, and close to you are some people chatting in Ukrainian or Finnish, you can’t help but join the conversation. And who knows, you just might be on your way to learning from your fellow speakers something informative or rewarding while giving you the opportunity to reminisce on your time in Ukraine or Finland.
But that is just one part of the reason why you may want to consider learning not so popular or less common language. There is a lot more to it.
6 Reasons Why to Learn Uncommon Languages
1) The key that unlocks a new but hidden world
One of the greatest advantages of learning a less popular language is that it provides you with access to a whole new world. Yeah, you can probably rely on your knowledge of English or French in most instances across the globe, but that alone goes to show you’re missing out! If you are truly going to immerse yourself into a culture, connect to the locals and adapt to the communal society you belong, you need to learn the language, notwithstanding how less it’s being spoken.
Even if you decide to start out with just the basics, it still will afford you a competitive advantage and ability to blend well with the scheme of things. For instance, when you accidentally bumped into someone on the streets of Warsaw, in Poland, and you say a quick Przepraszam, or when you say Merhaba as a way of greeting others in Turkey, such interactions may appear small, but the fact is they provide you with a significant opportunity to connect with others in a way a complete stranger can’t achieve. It further indicates that you are committing much effort in learning about your host country even though your vocabulary may feel like it’s on par with that of a three-year-old.
Furthermore, when you learn some less common language, it can surprisingly assist you in learning a more popularly spoken language.
Take Latin as a case study, it is now considered as a ‘dead’ language and so is less common these days. But when you come to review it critically, you will discover that a lot of words we speak in English have a Latin root. For example, the word, ‘maternity’ originate from the Latin word ‘mater’, which means ‘mother’. Another example is ‘Draco’ which means ‘Dragon,’ while ‘delegare’ in Latin means ‘delegate,’ in English, and so on.
Even in Spanish, a lot of words have their base in Latin. For example, the Spanish word for water is ‘agua’, which originates from the Latin word ‘aqua’. Thus, it becomes easier for you when you were taking classes in Spanish, thanks to the Latin knowledge of Latin. The same also goes for people taking classes in Italian or Portuguese.
There are lots of other less common languages out there that can simplify the process of learning a much more popular and difficult language. An example is Esperanto which can assist your Portuguese or Irish as well.
2) Competitive advantage at Place of Work
Although you may not immediately need the language for your position, it does not negate the fact that employers are favorably disposed to bilinguals. So when you learn a less popular language, you will have something rewarding to add to your resume.
That’s one of the primary reasons why some people are learning a less commonly spoken language. Imagine knowing how to speak less popular languages like Danish, Afrikaans, Swahili, Thai, Slavic or Nordic languages in India or elsewhere? Any of these languages can become an asset in professional life, considering that the world has become a global village and foreign markets are expanding rapidly.
The fact that they are less popular makes them even more ideal for career-minded individuals. What if your firm starts trading with Polish, Icelandic or Cambodia companies?
What about if a new branch is opening in Kenya or Hungary? A language that may look useless today may become the goose that lays the golden egg tomorrow. Since these languages are not popular, there is less competition for positions, and as such, your chances of becoming the “anointed one” for the job is almost, if not, a guarantee.
The future is always one of uncertainty, and with a less common language up your sleeves, you will be ready when the opportunity comes — and surely it will.
3) Future Career opportunities
Interested in a Career in Translation and Interpretation? If you are dreaming of working in the translation and interpretation field, studying and understanding an unusual language will further enhance the beauty of your qualifications. For the time being, you may not have much work to do, but that also mean only few people have qualification in that area.
Authors of important cultural documents and other literary works place much value on their translators, and the relationship and professionalism this nature of work create are in most cases extremely rewarding.
Today, there are always one or more job opportunities online in search of translators and interpreters in one or more language; yours could just be the one that’s being sought.
4) You will become a bridge over large cultural divide
The primary reason why people are separated from one another is the language barrier. Trust is key to mutual understanding and cultural integration. Once you are start understanding and speaking the language, you start gaining trust from groups that were otherwise at variance with yours. The walls around you start coming down because people feel and see they can trust you.
This was what will happen to you as an Indian when you will move to Denmark. The people over there are always quick to move into what I called ‘Danish Mode’, immediately they come across a fellow Dane. This trend cut you off from a lot of important discussions and potential rewarding outcomes. But by the time you will start speaking the language, everyone is willing to talk to you. You will become a subject of preference at your place of work.
That’s just one of the good things with learning a less common language. Most times, the native of that language are overwhelmingly supportive and glad to find a complete stranger speaking their unusual language, and this can lead to a lot of opportunities for you, just like it happened to me.
5) Leisure, Entertainment & Travel
Sure, these days, movies have subtitles and books come with translations. But when you learn a less common language like Italian, you open up a new world of enjoying the best in music, movies, books, literature, news and more. Of course, since the language is very uncommon, you’re never going to find much translated works, anyway. S learning the language itself gives you more opportunity to enjoy the very best that defines your leisure and entertainment time.
But that is not all. What about the traveling? If you are planning to travel and settle on a remote region or territory where the language is uncommon but the terrain is rich in natural and man-made attraction, speaking the less popular language of the people will enable you to blend well in the society without any difficulty at all. For instance, learning Malay and Indonesian will enable you to get deeper into the largely interesting cultures of one of Southeast Asia’s travelers’ favorite region – the Malay Archipelago!
6) Ease of learning & access to more languages
Some less common languages are very interesting to learn and understand. Take for example, you can speak English very well, you will find it interesting and become motivated to learn Dutch Language in India or Norwegian, due to the many cognates and similarities it has in relation to English.
One thing most people don’t know is that when you learn a less common language like Dutch, Norwegian or Javanese, it will leave you better prepared to learn other more popular languages, than a monolingual person who will have to start from scratch.
For example, Scandinavian languages in India are less common but are famous for their simplicity and amazing relationships to the English language. A language like Norwegian carries a hidden bonus. When you choose to learn Norwegian, you’re giving yourself a license to understand two the basics of two other languages. That is, for the price of one, you’ll essentially be learning how to speak Danish, Swedish in addition to Norwegian, due to the high similarities that exist between the 3 languages. And at the same time, it will broaden your awareness of English by the time you choose to study it.
For example, Norwegian words for ‘cat’ and ‘grass’ is ‘kat’ and ‘gress’. This closeness can also been seen in Dutch, with relative similarities with Danish and Swedish.
Thinking about some less commonly spoken languages you can learn? Well, Italian and Portuguese language in India will do you much good, cause there is always some career opportunities in Italian and Portuguese. However, they might not be in the category of less spoken languages. And the likelihood that you’ll come in contact with a native of these languages is very high. As mentioned earlier, Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, Slavic, Afrikaans, Bahasa Indonesian, Malay, are just a number of less common languages you can learn.
While there is a host of less common language to learn, the above-mentioned ones can form the basis of a perfect breakaway from the dictum of learning popular languages. As the world merges together through increasing globalization, less common languages will sooner or later in the future become relevant at some point. You never can tell.