Today I was poking around linguistics sites and discovered that I had never heard of one of the top 10 languages in the world. I find this highly embarrassing. Also, I had no idea Bengali was bigger than Hindi. (This is first languages - they say English would probably be number one if they were counting second languages.)
My linguistic exploration eventually led me to this awesome site: Ethnologue. It's The Giant Repository of languages, and it has this totally cool thing where you can click on a map of the world, pick a country, and get a list of every language spoken in that country.
I checked out the two I'm most familiar with. First, Norway - I figured, ok, there's two official Norwegian languages (Nynorsk and Bokmål) and there's Sami, so that should be three. No - it turns out there are four Sami languages spoken in Norway and three gypsy languages. Then I looked at Japan - thinking, ok, Japanese and Ainu, that should be about it. Yeah. There are like a dozen languages spoken in the island chain that includes Okinawa. Plus Norway and Japan each has its own sign language.
So, basically, there are way more languages than I realized. I always get kind of upset when I read things like this, because I've only learned seven or eight. (I'm defining "learned" as "at some point in my life, have been able to form a sentence in.") I have a lot more to go!
Next I'm thinking about maybe tackling Polish. I'm thinking about going to Poland for my Ridiculous 2008 Adventure.