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European Day of Languages

10 things you never knew about European languages


European Day of Languages, 10 things you never knew about European languages
Flags of European, Photo Credit- TeaMeister[Flickr]

Si. Oui. Yes. Ja. Tak. Kyllä: On 26 September, Europe celebrates the European Day of Languages, to honour the incredibly rich linguistic diversity of the European continent. Here are ten surprising facts about our languages.


Languages are more than just a means of communication – they are a vehicle for conveying ideas, values and emotions, making them pivotal in the way we live together. The Council of Europe promotes multilingualism and intercultural understanding, and thus aims to protect our linguistic diversity and heritage.


  1. Most European languages belong to one of three major language families: the Germanic, Romance or Slavic languages.

  2. Europe has about 225 indigenous languages – but this accounts for only three per cent of the languages spoken in the world.

  3. German is the only language in the world to capitalise nouns.

  4. In French, there are 13 different spellings for the sound "o".

  5. French and English are the only languages taught everywhere in schools throughout the world.

  6. Russia is thought to be home to speakers of over 100 languages. Alongside Russian, Chechen, Tatar and Bashkir are widely spoken.

  7. Basque is thought to be the oldest language spoken in Europe. It is spoken in a region straddling the French-Spanish border on the Atlantic coast.

  8. Catalan, spoken by six million people, is the second most-spoken language in Spain. It is spoken in Catalonia on the east coast of the country.

  9. Arabic, Chinese and Hindi are the most widely spoken non-European languages in Europe.

  10. In London alone, about 300 languages are spoken.


The European Council is an international organisation founded in 1949. It has 47 member states. Its goal is to foster unity and cooperation in Europe and to promote economic and social progress. Within its framework, binding international agreements are signed by states, including the European Convention on Human Rights. Although the Council of Europe has the same flag and anthem as the EU it is a separate organisation and is independent of the EU. It should not be confused with the Council of the European Union. Germany will hold the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe from November 2020 to May 2021.

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