Assigning hard data to the number of native speakers in a language is not an easy task due to the many dialects and sub-dialects out there. Also how do we trust the reliability of the number of data sources made by several different institutions. Below is a list of the 10 most spoken languages in the world gathered in the world by Ethnologue .
According to Ethnologue the number of Chinese native speakers is close to 1.3 billion, roughly a billion of whom speak mandarin. It is no doubt that it is one of the most spoken languages in the world. As it uses logograms, this tonal language will certainly kept you occupied.
At nearly 442 million speakers, Spanish barely beats English for the second spot on the list. If you are looking to learn a language that will open up several continents then Spanish can definitely provide. It certainly is the primary language in Spain, South and Central America, along with being widely spoken in the US.
If you are reading this article it is most likely that you are part of the 378 million native English speakers, or one of the half billion people that speak english as a second. English is the business and travel language that continues to have success do to the power of the US culture.
Roughly around 315 million native speakers, Arabic comes in 4th on the list. But like Chinese, Arabic is very different according to its respective dialects and is grouped as one language for convenience sake. If you desire to learn a language full of rich cultural heritage, you will never be bored learning Arabic.
With 260 million native speakers, this is the language that gave us shampoo, bungalow, and jungle! It is the main language used in the northern states of Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar. It is spoken in much of north and central India alongside other languages such as Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi or Bengali. Hindi, written in the Devanagari script, is one of official languages of the government of India – the other official language is English. So if you are thinking about travelling to Indian , speaking some Hindi could get you a long ways.
This may come as a surprise, but Bengali comes in seventh on the list! It’s the official and most widely spoken language of Bangladesh with 243 millions native speakers and second most widely spoken of the 22 scheduled languages of India, behind Hindi.
Thanks to the Portuguese conquerors and traders starting in the 15th century that brought the language to Asia, Africa, and the Americas. These colonized countries transformed the languages with their own vibrant cultures. With 223million native speakers, Portuguese is spoken in countries such asBrazil, Goa, Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bisseau, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Macau. It’s also the language of Machado de Assis, Mia Couto, Bossa Nova, Fernando Pessoa, and Agualusa.
Currently Russian is the eighth most spoken language in the world with 154 million native speakers. The language is one of the six official languages of the United Nations. Russian is also the second most widespread language on the Internet after English.
Of the 128 million native Japanese speakers most live in Japan. Japanese has two main system of writing, katakana and hiragana, while already using the Kanji Chinese characters.
With estimates of around 119 million native speakers, Punjabi places number 10 on the list. It is the native language of the Punjabi people, who associate with the historical Punjab region of present-day India and present-day Pakistan.