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A linguistic trip through Europe
"As anyone who has travelled through Europe knows, the languages spoken there differ quite a lot. Here are ten questions about some modern European languages and their predecessors."
15 Points Per Correct Answer - No time limit
The legacy of the Roman Empire lives on, hundreds of years after its demise. Many modern languages descend from Latin, the tongue of the Romans. Which of the following, which preserves some aspects of the case system, is generally considered the closest modern relative among the major European languages?
Some European languages are more obscure and secretive than others. One of the more enigmatic languages is Basque, spoken in regions of Spain and France. It is sometimes referred to as a "Neolithic language". What does that mean?
It is a spoken language only, with no written texts
It is "new" in the sense that it has existed for less than 200 years
It is very, very old
It is a mix of two languages from different groups, in this case Spanish and Moorish Arabic
Sami is a combined term for different dialects spoken by the Lapps of Northern Europe. It is related to, among others, Finnish and Estonian. In which of the following countries would you be least likely to find native speakers of this language?
English is undoubtedly the lingua franca in the age of globalization. Some even say that its spread is a threat to other languages being invaded by it. Be that as it may, English itself is proof positive that the British Isles have been invaded many times: its vocabulary contains words with many different origins. From where was the everyday word "window" borrowed?
French (Norman invasion)
Celtic (Celtic invasion)
Old Norse (Viking invasion)
Saxon (Invasion by Angles and Saxons)
Some countries in Europe are long since multi-lingual. In some cases, such as in Belgium, language differences may become political and sensitive. In others, such as in Switzerland, the natives are happy enough to co-exist and many are bilingual. Which word would you expect a native of Berne, in the predominantly German-speaking part of Switzerland, to use to say "Thanks"?
Some number-words in French usually baffle foreigners, as they are based not on tens but on twenties: 80 is "quatre-vingts", literally "four-twenties". Which of the following languages employs a not-so-different scheme?
Due to colonization in earlier centuries, European languages have spread to many places outside the continent. Of these, it is estimated that English is the one with most native speakers. Which is the second most widespread European language, when counting native speakers world-wide?
Although very different from each other, most European languages are part of the large Indo-European family. Which of these languages from Eastern Europe is not?
How did linguists realize that many modern European languages were related and, they think, stem from Proto-Indo-European? A key clue was the observation that consonants change in a regular pattern as languages evolve. The German who first described this is today most well-known for other literature-related work he did together with his brother. What are the brothers famous as?
Collectors of folklore and fairy tales
Translators of the New Testament into German
Inventors of an improved printing press
Illustrators of seedy books
A modern-day Englishman could read a first edition of a play by Shakespeare (16th/17th century) with some difficulty, but have a very hard time to read Chaucer (14th century). The citizens of which Nordic country have no trouble reading original texts that are a thousand years old?
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Compiled Jun 28 12