The World’s Most Efficient Languages
An overview of various world languages and where they reside on the economic vs busy scale and how that possibly affects the speaker’s world of view – courtesy of Atlantic.
Languages are strikingly different in the level of detail they require a speaker to provide in order to put a sentence together. The article explores a number of most common world languages – from English and German to Chinese, as well as a number of very specific dialects that sometimes don’t even have a written form, and are a spoken language only.
This German sentence, then, requires you to pay more attention to the genders of people and things, to whether it’s me, you, her, him, us, y’all, or them driving the action. It also requires specifying not just where someone is but whether that person is moving closer or farther away. German is, overall, busier than English, and yet Germans feel their way of putting things is as normal as English speakers feel their way is.
The article also explores the possibility that the more popular the language is, the more telegraphic it becomes as over time the “overgrown” parts of speech tend to wash away for the language to become more efficient in communication:
Long-dominant Mandarin, then, is less “busy” than Cantonese and Taiwanese, which have been imposed on fewer people. English came out the way it did because Vikings, who in the first millennium forged something of an empire of their own in northern and western Europe, imposed themselves on the Old English of the people they invaded and, as it were, mowed it. German, meanwhile, stayed “normal.”