Mother tongues : languages around the world

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  • This program travels the globe as it surveys a large portion of the world's languages-25 percent of which are spoken by a mere 0.1 percent of the Earth's population. Moving from Africa to Oceania and up to Asia and then west to Europe and across the ocean to the Americas, the program assesses how many languages are spoken in each region, the characteristics they share, and misconceptions about them. Historical background on some of the key languages of the regions is included as well. The commentary of Salikoko Mufwene, coeditor of The Ecology of Language Evolution; Larry Hyman, of U.C. Berkeley; Hua Lin, of the University of Victoria; Harvard University's Jay Jasanoff; and Lyle Campbell, of the University of Utah, is featured.


  • Encoded with permission for digital streaming by Films Media Group on Oct. 24, 2007.
  • Films on Demand is distributed by Films Media Group for Films for the Humanities & Sciences, Cambridge Educational, Meridian Education, and Shopware.
  • Mode of access: Internet.
  • System requirements: FOD playback platform.
  • Closed-captioned.


  • Languages of Africa (2:11) -- African Languages by Region (2:27) -- African Languages: Swahili (2:57) -- Bantu Languages Spread Across Africa (2:26) -- Arabic Languages in North Africa (2:07) -- Languages of Oceania (2:31) -- The Austronesian Languages (3:33) -- Languages of Asia (2:08) -- Chinese Dialects (4:14) -- Languages of India (2:56) -- Languages of Europe (3:04) -- History and Expansion of Indo-European Languages (2:56) -- Evolution of the English Language (4:06) -- Languages of the Americas (2:12) -- Languages of the Maya and the Incas (1:41) -- Comparing Languages of the Americas (2:45)
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