Languages & Linguistics

The Romansh language is a Romance language spoken primarily in the southeastern portion of Switzerland, in a Swiss canton called Grisons. The language is also spelled as Romansch, Rumantsch, and Romanche. Romansh, along with German, French, and Italian is an official language in Switzerland and has held this distinction since 1996.

The Venetian language is a Romance language spoken primarily in Italy by about 3.9 million people. The main geographic area where Venetian is spoken is the Veneto region where most inhabitants can understand it. Some linguists note that the Venetian language can be understood and sometimes spoken outside of this area in places such as Dalmatia, Trentino, Friuli, Istria, and Venezia Giulia.

The Breton language, also known as Brezhoneg, is a Celtic language spoken in Brittany, France. Recent census data shows that there are about 210,000 speakers of the Breton language in Brittany and an additional 16,000 in Île-de-France. The language is a member of the Brittonic branch of Celtic languages, meaning it's closely related to other languages from Great Britain.

The Welsh language (Cymraeg or y Gymraeg) is a Celtic language spoken natively in Great Britain. Welsh has been known by many names throughout history such as "the British tongue", "Cambrian", "Cambric", and "Cymric". According to census data and linguistic surveys, there are approximately 700,000 speakers of the Welsh language. Of these, about 562,016 reside in Wales itself. Another 8,648 live in areas of England.

The Faroese language, known as føroyskt, is a North Germanic language spoken by approximately 66,000 people. Of these, 45,000 reside in the Faroe Islands and 21,000 live elsewhere with a heavy concentration in Denmark. The Faroese language is closely related to Icelandic. While speakers of Icelandic can't understand spoken Faroese, they can read portions of the language since the orthography is very similar.

The Walloon language is a Romance language that's spoken primarily in a small portion of France, Brussels, and a district in Door County, Wisconsin. Walloon was widely spoken until the middle of the 20th century, but today there are only a few speakers who are fluent in the language. Most people born since the 1970's know only a handful of phrases of the Walloon language.


The Dalmatian language, also called the Dalmatic language was a Romance language spoken in Croatia and Montenegro. The language went extinct in 1898 when Tuone Udaina, the last known speaker, was killed at age 77 in a road work accident. Udaina had learned the language from his parents and was interviewed by the linguist Matteo Bartoli. No sound recordings of the Dalmatian language exist.

The Maranao language is an Austronesian language spoken by approximately 780,000 people. The Maranao people, the primary speakers of the language, live in the Philippines within the provinces of Lanao del Norte and Lanao del Sur, as well as in Sabah, Malaysia. Maranao (also called Mëranaw and Maranaoan) is taught in primary schools in the Lanao provinces and is used conversationally in areas where speakers reside.

The Icelandic language (íslenska) is a Germanic language spoken mainly in Iceland. There are approximately 334,400 speakers; 320,000 live in Iceland itself, about 8,000 live in Denmark, 5,000 in the United States, and 1,400 in Canada. The language isn't necessarily regulated in any sense; the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies serves an advisory role in preserving Icelandic manuscripts and the Icelandic Language Council advises the government on language policy.

The Neapolitan language, also known as napulitano is a Romance language spoken by approximately 5.7 million people. Mainly, Neapolitan is spaken in and around Naples, but is widespread throughout southern Italy. The name for the Neapolitan language doesn't come from the city of Naples, but instead comes from the Kingdom of Naples which ruled over much of the area where the language is found today.

The Estonian language is a member of the Finnic language family and is spoken by approximately 1.1 million people. Of these, about 922,000 live in Estonia. Estonian has official status in Estonia and the European Union and is regulated by the Institute of the Estonian Language. Estonian is related to Finnish, Karelian, Hungarian, and a handful of other languages as part of a family that is no Indo-European in origin.

The Sardinian language (also known as sardu, lingua sarda, and limba sarda) is a Romance language spoken by approximately 1 million people. As the name implies, Sardinian is primarily spoken on the island of Sardinia. Since 1997, the Sardinian language has been recognized by local and national laws and since 1999 has been protected as a "historical language minority" by Italy.

The Votic language is a member of the Finnic language family and is spoken by approximately 20 people. Votic is the language of the Votes, a population living in Ingria (a geographical area along the southern shore of the Gulf of Finland). The Votes are one of the oldest known ethnic groups in Ingria, but are close to extinction with just a handful of people living in Russia and Estonia.

The Mòcheno language is a Germanic language spoken by approximately 1,900 people in northeastern Italy. Census data shows that most Mòcheno speakers live in a handful of towns in the Mocheni Valley in Trentino. The Mòcheno language, also known as Bersntolerish and bersntoler Sproch is closely related to Bavarian and Cimbrian.

The Cimbrian language is a Germanic language related to Bavarian. Some linguists feel that Cimbrian is descended from a Southern Bavarian dialect while others feel it has a more Lombardic origin. Additionally, the Cimbrian language has a strong relationship to Mòcheno. Cimbrian, also known as Zimbrisch or Tzimbrisch, is spoken by approximately 2,220 people in northeastern Italy.

The Sicilian language is a Romance language spoken on Sicily and surrounding islands, and in some areas of the Italian peninsula. Sicilian, also known as Siculu or Calabro-Sicilian, has about 4 and a half million speakers. There is some debate whether or not the Sicilian language is distinct enough from Italian to be considered a separate language, but Ethnologue and UNESCO maintain that it is.