Although he only wrote in English, the death of Irish playwright Brian Friel at age 86 reminds one of the struggles the Irish language has had to face over the centuries to survive, but survived it has.
Echo Moskvy editor-in-chief Alexei Venediktov is head of one of the few Russian media outlets that can give an independent point of view. He is both friend and foe to Vladimir Putin; constantly falling out of favour with the president as he, and his contributors, face harassment for their less-than-flattering critiques of Kremlin policy.
So how did it come to be that a man who simply vents his spleen on the airwaves, and in public, now has to be accompanied by bodyguards? Mr Venediktov came to London to explain why to the Chatham House think tank.
Iceland is one country which has recently abolished blasphemy. Blasphemy is the act of insulting or showing contempt or a lack of reverence for God. It may sound like a crime from a murky, illiterate and unenlightened past but it is in fact becoming all the more pertinent in the 21st century and shows just how the use of words can have life or death consequences. Other countries should follow Iceland’s lead.
So my first language to study, investigate, and find out about was Portuguese. Hunting around online, I was keen to find a free way to learn that would give me a grounding in the basics. One I stumbled upon dated back to the 1970s, and was used to teach American diplomats. Although it was at the height of the Cold War and Portugal itself was a dictatorship, the sentences that were taught via the Foreign Services Institute were not political however they did come across as a tad old-fashioned.