What are the Most Spoken Languages in the World?
The question of which languages are the most spoken in the world is not so simple. Do you know that Indonesian is in the Top 10 most spoken languages?
Below you will find the list of Top 10 Languages by number of native speakers:
Number of native speakers: 897 million Name in the language itself: 普通话 (Putonghua) Language family: Sino-Tibetan
People sometimes think of “Chinese” as if it’s a single language. It’s actually a group of related languages, of which Mandarin Chinese is the biggest. It’s an official language in the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of China (Taiwan), and Singapore.
The native name for Mandarin, Putonghua, literally means “common speech”.
Mandarin is written using Chinese characters, an ancient pictorial system where each symbol represents a different word.
You need to learn 2,000-3,000 characters to read a newspaper.
An educated Chinese person will know about 8,000!
Number of native speakers: 436 million Language family: Romance, a sub-family of Indo-European. Name in the language itself: español or castellano
The language now known as Spanish originated in the Castile region of Spain. For this reason, it’s sometimes referred to as “Castilian” – castellano in the language itself. Since then, Spanish explorers and conquistadores have spread their language all around the world. 31 countries have Spanish as their official language.
Spanish is also the second most-common language in the United States. The US will become the largest Spanish speaking country by 2050!!!
Number of native speakers: 371 million Language-family: Germanic, a sub-family of Indo-European. Name in the language itself: English 😊.
Thanks to the historical dominance of the British Empire – and, more recently, the economic and cultural clout of the United States – English is well-established as one of the most spoken languages.
The name “English” comes from the “Angles”, a Germanic people who settled in Britain in the first millennium A.D..
English is a Germanic language. It is related to German and Dutch.
Thanks to the French-speaking Normans who conquered Britain in the 11th century A.D, much English vocabulary is Latin in origin.
Number of native speakers: 329 million Language family: Indo-Aryan, a sub-family of Indo-European. Name in the language itself: हिन्दुस्तानी or ہندوستانی
Hindustani is the collective name for Hindi and Urdu – two dialects of the same language. The name comes from Hindustan, a historical term for the north/north-western part of the Indian subcontinent.
Hindi is spoken across northern and central India, and is the official language of the Indian government. Urdu is primarily spoken in Pakistan.
Hindi and Urdu have differences in vocabulary and pronunciation, but speakers of either language can easily communicate with each other
Number of native speakers: 290 million Language family: Semitic, a sub-family of Afro-Asiatic. Name in the language itself: العَرَبِيَّة (al-ʻarabiyyah)
Arabic is the official language of 26 countries.
Some have argued that it’s not really one language, but several.
If we assume that there’s a single labguage called “Arabic”, then it’s a massive language, with over 400 million speakers.
It originated on the Arabian peninsula, and has since spread all across the Middle East and North Africa.
Arabic is also, of course, the language of Islam. While most Muslims are not native Arabic speakers.
Number of native speakers: 218 million
Language family: Romance, a sub-branch of Indo-European.
Name in the language itself: português
Portuguese developed from Latin and is closely related to modern Spanish. The name comes from “Portugal”, whose name in turn comes from Porto, the second-largest city in that country. But the word porto in Portuguese simply means “port”.
Someone who speaks Portuguese is called a Lusophone. This word comes from “Lusitania”, the Roman name for the area that’s now Portugal. The vast majority of Lusophones live in Brazil.The Portuguese empire once stretched far and wide, from South America to Africa to as far as India and Southeast Asia. Today, Portuguese is an official language in nine countries, as well as in the Chinese territory of Macau.
Number of native speakers: 242 million Language family: Indo-Aryan, a sub-family of Indo-European. Name in the language itself: বাংলা (Bangla)
Bengali is the official language of Bangladesh and of several Indian states. In fact, it’s the the second most widely spoken language in India.
Bengali is written in the Bengali alphabet.
Bengali script is relatively unknown in the West, but it’s actually the fifth most widely-used writing system in the world. More people worldwide write in Bengali script than in Cyrillic!
Number of native speakers: 153 million Language family: East Slavic, a sub-family of Indo-European Name in the language itself: ру́сский язы́к, (rússkiy yazýk)
Russian is the largest of the Slavic languages. It is the official language of four countries: Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. It’s also widely spoken in many other countries of the former Soviet Union, and has official status in numerous sub-national territories.
By number of native speakers, Russian is the biggest language in Europe. It’s written with the Cyrillic alphabet.
Number of native speakers: 126 million
Language family: Japonic family
Name in the language itself: 日本語 Nihongo
The Japanese language is only recognized as the official language of Japan.
Of course, Japanese is the de facto language of Japan, and it’s also the only place where Japanese is the official language.
However, that doesn’t mean Japan is the only place where the language is spoken!
Japanese is recognized as a minority language in the Republic of Palau, where the island state of Angaur speaks primarily Japanese. As of 2010, around 1% of Californians and 15% of Hawaiian residents speak Japanese as well.
Number of native speakers: 148 million Language family: Indo-Aryan, a sub-family of Indo-European. Name in the language itself: ਪੰਜਾਬੀ or پنجابی (panjabi)
Punjabi is named for the Punjab, a region in northern India and Eastern Pakistan. It has close to 150 million native speakers.
Punjabi is the most commonly spoken language in Pakistan.
It’s also spoken by a wide diaspora – it’s the fourth most common language in the United Kingdom!
Which of these global languages do you want to speak?