Can You Guess the Language?

This is a great quiz from the folks over at Quartz. One of my favorite parts about living in a big city and traveling to other cities is trying to guess what language the people around you are speaking. Now I can hone my skills. 

The most difficult part for me is being able to distinguish between the families of languages in Asia. That said, I (Jeremy) was able to swing a 5 out of 8. How do you think you'll do?

A bit more about the quiz:

Languages are as diverse as the people who speak them. But to foreign ears, they can be hard to tell apart.
Quartz has already tested your ear for accents. The quiz above does the same for languages using audio clips from the Wikitongues project, which aims to collect videos of native speakers in all of the world’s tongues.

What Makes a Language Important?

Are population, wealth, and power the only indicators of a language's importance? The Economist presents a recent study that measured the importance of a language by its connection to other languages:

But in December came a new approach. A group of scholars* approached the task by first looking at how languages are connected to one another, rather than viewing them in isolation. They then decided to see if this was a good predictor of how many famous people spoke a given language. If a language is well connected to others (a “hub” language with many bilinguals), its speakers will tend to be famous. And the names of the connected languages turn out to be rather interesting.

One of the takeaways: "big languages are not necessarily global, and vice-versa."

Their graphic representation of the study is also fascinating. They used Wikipedia, Twitter, and book translation as metrics for their "global language networks":

Learning a New Language (In 17 Days!)

David Bailey, CEO of Spotnight, shares his strategy for getting to conversational fluency in French in just 17 days. Of course it starts with an immersion setting, but there are some great tips you can take from this. Two of my favorite parts of his daily routine:

I would run for 45-60 minutes in the early afternoon in the French countryside listening to catchy French music. Music is a great way to learn the intonation of a language and train your facial muscles as you sing along.

I had lunch with my friend and her French friends everyday. As they refused to slow down when speaking to me in French, it was learn or starve!

What have you made part of your language learning routine? 

(via Spanish Lessons with Emily D.)