In one of the first meetings of the aforementioned typology class, the professor had us do a little exercise: sit down with a piece of paper and name as many languages as you can. She mentioned that someone has done a survey of linguistics graduate students and found that they can name something like 70-80 languages off the top of their heads. (A No-Prize to whoever comes up with a reference for that survey, BTW.) I was sure I could do better, but given that class time was limited, she couldn't just let us keep writing until we ran out. So, later that day, I sat down and wrote down as many as I could come up with. It's surprisingly hard—in particular, I didn't want to write down anything unless I was sure it was a language and not a language family or ethnonym, and that narrowed it down quite a bit. (Pop quiz: is Paiute the name of a language as well as the name of a people? I couldn't remember.) I also left out dead languages in order to avoid double counting (how many versions of Latin do I get credit for?) In the end, I was able to come up with 138, including several errors, which are listed after the jump in case you want to try it yourself...
The list that follows is in the order I wrote them down, along with some annotations written afterwards while looking at the Ethnologue. Note my biases: my knowledge is clearly organized geographically, and European and national languages are heavily overrepresented. My knowledge of the languages of Africa and South America is particularly thin. Sigh.
[Ethnologue actually lists two varieties]
[I meant the Uralic one, not the Sepik-Ramu one]
[Nope, that's either a term for Northwest Caucasian or a synonym for Kabardian]
[more properly Azerbaijani]
[should be Tajiki]
[BZZZT! No such language.]
[OK, I had to look up the accents on this one]
[more properly Chukot]
[oops, this is a duplicate]
[Had to look up the spelling, and it's not in Ethnologue?]
[actually a group of five languages]
[nope, another language group]
[quite a few dialects of this one, actually]
[as opposed to Kree]
Of course, for the next couple of weeks after I did this exercise, every time I heard a language mentioned that I should have been able to come up with (Makah, Tok Pisin, ASL), I went "Doh!" inside. Live and learn, I suppose. At least I beat the average. I've only got about 5900 more languages to go...