Staff Reporter BETWEEN them, foreign residents in the Balearics speak more than 300 different languages and dialects. The wide linguistic variety springs largely from the array of dialects that are spoken in island communities but based on a main language, such as is the case with Italian. Within this one language alone, eleven dialects are officially acknowledged. Also high in number are the derivatives of Hindi which amount to more than twenty in number, and of Indonesian where more than fifteen dialects are used. In the latter case, the linguistic differences are such that the Indonesians speaking distinct dialects cannot understand one another within their own country.

According to a report released yesterday by the Federation of Associtions of Balearic Immigrants (FAIB), the linguistic diversity of foreigners in the Balearics who come from the same country is very high. Marlene Perea, president of FAIB, said that the figures “reflect the rich tapestry” of immigration in the Islands. “MOTHER” TONGUE
With the Hindi language having twenty dialects, the case of India is the most notable case in point but it is not the only one. Natives of Chile who have come to live in the Balearics, originate from a wide variety of regions of Chile separated by vast tracts of inhospitable terrain. There is not just one “mother” tongue in Chile but five, with Spanish being just one of them. The others are Araucan, Quechua, Huilliche and Maunpur.

Separately, although the majority of Canadians speak English, there are some foreigners coming from Canada who use very different languages: Haisla, Seneca, Cayuga, Heiltsuk, Susquehan, Nock, Erie and Makah.

The case of Indonesia, with more than fifteen different regional languages, from Javanees to Hitu, is another “special” instance. Similarly, Mexico recognises more than ten languages, some of which are spoken only by the indigenous population.