How do the people of Europe overcome the barriers created by the diversity of cultures? Background Essay 1: Languages of Europe
Source: Marsh, C. (2012). Student Workbook. (pp. 112). Peachtree City, GA: Gallopade International.
Europe is a continent of diverse languages. Some are in the same language family, so people from one country can often understand the language of people form another country. Many Europeans are bilingual (speak two languages) or multilingual (speak several languages). The native languages in Europe belong to the Indo-European language family. Branches of the Indo-European family include the Germanic languages, Romance languages, and Slavic languages. The Germanic language and Romance languages use the same alphabet, while the Slavic languages use a Cyrillic alphabet based on ancient Greek letters.
Germanic: Examples include German and English. English is spoken in more parts of the world than any other language.
Romance: Examples include French and Italian. The Romance languages are based on Latin, the language of the ancient Romans.
Slavic: Russian is an example of a Slavic language.
How do the people of Europe overcome the barriers created by the diversity of cultures?
Background Essay 2: Languages of Europe
Source: Mullins, E. (2009). CRCT test prep. (p. 128). Atlanta, GA: Clairmont Press
The continent of Europe is slightly larger than the United States in land area. However, Europe’s population is more than double the population of the United States. In the United States, English is the dominate language. Other languages are spoken by immigrants and by Native Americans, but only in small numbers. Europe is much different. It is home to more than two hundred native languages. A few languages are dominant, but many more are spoken by large numbers of people.
Most European languages are in the three main categories: Germanic languages, Romance languages, and Slavic languages. The Germanic language group has the most native speakers. European native speakers of this group live mostly in northwest and central Europe. About 20 percent of Europeans speak one of two languages—English and German—as their native language. Most Europeans learn English as a second language in their schools even if they don’t speak English at home.
Another large group is the Romance languages, which includes French, Italian, and Spanish. These languages are found in the south and west of Europe. These languages come form Latin, the language of the ancient Roman Empire. The Roman alphabet is used to write both Romance and Germanic languages, although not every language has the exact same characters and punctuation. The words on this page are written using the Roman alphabet.
Slavic languages include Russian. Slavic languages are found in central and eastern Europe. These languages do not always use the Roman alphabet. Instead, they are written with a Cyrillic alphabet. Russian, for example, uses the Cyrillic alphabet.
Having so many languages can be a problem. It is difficult to live, work, and trade with people who cannot communicate with each other. Europeans have worked hard to solve this problem. Most schoolchildren learn one or two other languages beside their own. The European Union has twenty-three “official” languages to make sure that people can understand laws and decisions made by the government. There are special laws to protect languages too. Europeans want t o keep alive the languages spoken by only a few people. At the same time, they are working to build a united Europe.
European Languages Background Essay Questions What is difficult about different countries having different languages?
What have Europeans done to try to solve the problem of so many languages?
Besides differences in words, what other challenge do Europeans face in communication with each other?