Most Spoken Languages in the World

This article intends to comprehend questions related to Most Spoken Languages in the World. Language is a system of human communication which is either written or spoken. Dialect is a peculiar form of a language which is specific to a region, community or social group. This is to note that a language can contain a number of dialects. In mathematical terms dialect is a subset of language. The scientific study of languages is called as linguistics. A person who can speak or write more than one language is called multi-linguist. In general there are about 3500 languages in the world with more than 1000 native speakers.

Language family is defined as group of languages which descends from a common origin.  The world languages are classifies in many language families. The main language families of the world include Indo-European Family, Sino-Tibetan family, Afro-Asiatic family, Malayo-Polynesian family, Dravidian family. Indo-European language family is the most widely spoken family and includes prominent languages like English, Hindi, French, Spanish, Russian etc. Sino-Tibetan family consists of Mandarin and many other regional languages. Dravidian family includes the languages of South India consisting of Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam etc. This article enlists some interesting facts about most spoken languages of the world.

Most Spoken Languages in the World

Most Spoken Languages in World native to Countries

1. Most Spoken Language in the World : Mandarin (官话 or 官話)

Mandarin (Guānhuà) is native to China and is also its National Language. Number of native speakers of Chinese Mandarin stands out to be 955 million as per 2010 figures. The fraction of world population which speaks mandarin stands a whopping figure of 14.1 %. Pinyin is the Roman system to teach standard ChineseThere are about seven to ten Chinese dialects groups and Mandarin is the most dominant with 70 % of native Chinese speakers. Most of the dialects associated with the Mandarin are from the northern regions of China. Some of the main dialects of Mandarin are – Northeastern Mandarin, Beijing Mandarin, Jilu, Jiaoliao, Central Plains Mandarin, Lanyin Mandarin, Lower Yangtze Mandarin, Southwestern Mandarin.

2. Most Spoken Languages in the World : Spanish (Español)

Spanish is the second largest spoken language in the world. About 400 million people all over the world are known to be native speakers of Spanish. About 5.85 % of total world’s population speak Spanish. If geographical extent of the speakers is concerned then it is one of the top most extensively spoken languages of the world. There are 21 countries where Spanish is official language. Most of the Latin American countries have Spanish speaking population. The country with largest population of Spanish speakers is not Spain, it is Mexico. The second country which has largest Spanish speaking population is United State of America. Latin and Arabic are two languages which have maximum influence on Spanish. One of the other interesting fact about Spanish is that it is also the second most studied language of the world.

List of Countries where Spanish is the Official Language 

3. Most Spoken Languages in the World : English

There are about 365 million people worldwide speaking as their native English language. If the population of those people is also added who speak English as secondary language then this figure becomes 1.1 billion. So if the native and non-native speakers of English is together taken in account, English becomes most widely spoken language in the world. In terms of fraction of world about 5.52% of world’s population speaks English as their primary language. One more interesting fact about English language is that number of non native English speakers outnumber the native speakers by a ratio of 3:1. The most common non native English speakers hails from countries like India, Nigeria, Singapore, Philippines, Pakistan and Jamaica.

English language holds the reputation of Official language of 67 countries worldwide excluding 27 non-sovereign states. English serves as the lingua franca of United States (231 million), United Kingdom (60 million), Canada (19 million), Australia (17 million), South Africa (4.8 million), Ireland (4.2 million) and New Zealand (3.7 million). English stands at third position as most widely spoken languages in world after Mandarin and Spanish.

4. Most Spoken Languages in the World : Hindi (हिन्दी)

Hindi is the fourth most spoken language of the world. The number of native Hindi speakers worldwide is 310 million. In terms of percentage, nearly 4.46 % of world’s population speaks Hindi as their primary language. Hindi is one of the total 22 official languages of India. Hindi is the most commonly spoken and understood languages of India. Other than India, Hindi is also popularly spoken in Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Fiji, Mauritius, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Suriname. Apart from India, Hindi has got the official language status in Fiji.

Urdu which is also quite similar to Hindi is the common language of Pakistan. if Hindi (310 million) and Urdu (66 million) speakers are together considered as one unit then Hindi/Urdu speakers exceeds English speaking population and reaches 3rd spot. Devanagari is the recognized script of Hindi. Most of the words of Hindi are derived from Sanskrit language. Most common dialects of Hindi are Awadhi, Braj Bhasha, Bagheli, Bundeli, Chhatisgarhi, rajasthani, hariyanvi, Kannauji, Khadi Boli etc.

5. Most Spoken Languages in the World : Arabic (العَرَبِيَّة)

Arabic is the fifth most spoken language in the world with about 295 million native speakers. In terms of percentage, about 4.23 % of total world’s population speaks Arabic. Arabic is the most common spoken language of Arab world ( Middle East and North African countries). Arabic is one of the six official languages of United Nations.  There are total 26 countries where Arabic holds the status of official language. All of these countries are located in Middle east and north Africa. Arabic has influenced the etymology of most of the European and Asian languages such as Latin, Greek, Persian, Turkish, Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, Pashto, Malay etc. Arabic and Hebrew are considered as the main examples of living Semitic languages. Among all the Arabian countries Egypt, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Sudan have the maximum Arabic speaking population.

Apart from the primary native language in Arabian countries, Arabic is also the minority language in several Muslim dominated countries like Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, Nigeria. Number of people studying Arabic as foreign/secondary/scholarly purpose in countries like India, Pakistan, Indonesia etc is as much as about 1 billion.

List of countries where Arabic is the official language

6. Most Spoken Languages in the World : Portuguese (Português)

Portuguese is the sixth most common spoken language of the world. Total numbers of people speaking Portuguese worldwide is 215 million. About 3.08 % of total world’s population speaks Portuguese. Portuguese is native language to Portugal and Brazil but holds official status in 10 countries:- Portugal, Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Macau, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau and São Tomé and Príncipe. Portuguese language proliferated to the world during colonial conquest of Portugal in 16th century. If only South America is concerned Portuguese is the most spoken language. If Latin America is concerned then Portuguese is second most spoken language after Spanish. São Paulo of Brazil is the city with largest number of Portuguese speakers.

7. Most Spoken Languages in the World : Bengali (বাংলা)

Bengali like Hindi is also an Indian language and originated from Indo-European family. Bengali has about 205 million speakers. Bengali native speakers constitute of 3.05 % of world’s population. It is one of the official languages of India and sole Official and National language of Bangladesh.  Bengali is the seventh largest spoken language of world. It is commonly spoken in eastern parts of India including states like West Bengal, Assam, Tripura and union territory of Andaman and Nicobar islands. Bengali language has got rich and extensive literature works and both the National Anthems of India and Bangladesh are written in Bengali.

8. Russian (русский) 

Russian language is native to Russian Federation. About 160 million people are native Russian speakers worldwide. Russian language speakers forms 2.42 % of total world’s population. Russian language like other European languages belongs to Indo-European family. Russian language is widely spoken in countries like Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Latvia. Russian language holds the official language status in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. In Russia there are 35 different official languages and Russian is one of them. Although there are so many different languages prevails in Russia, Russian speakers forms the largest community. This is to note that Russian language is also the largest spoken language of Europe. Russian is eighth most spoken language of the world. Russian language holds a unique credit of being second most popular language on internet after English.

9. Japanese (日本語)

Japanese (Nihongo) is the native language to Japan. it is also the national language of Japan. About 125 million people speaks Japanese worldwide. Japanese speaking people forms 1.92 % of total world’s population. Japanese is called Nihongo as per its script and it belongs to Japonic language family. The two main scripts of Japanese are hiragana (平仮名) and katakana (片仮名). Japanese language is quite much influenced by Chinese and it also borrows many of its from characters and vocabulary from Chinese language.

10. Punjabi (پنجابی or ਪੰਜਾਬੀ)

There are about 100 million Punjabi speakers worldwide and they make 1.44 % of total world’s population. There are two main scripts of Punjabi: Shahmukhi and Gurumukhi. It is the lingua franca of the Punjabi people who live both on Indian and Pakistan sides of historical Punjab region. Punjabi is the 10th most spoken language of world and 11th most spoken language of India. Although Urdu is the National and official language of Pakistan, Punjabi is the most commonly spoken language (about 44 %) in Pakistan. Due to large number of Indian Punjabi diaspora residing in United Kingdom and Canada, Punjabi language is 4th most spoken in UK and 3rd most spoken language in Canada.

List of Most Spoken Languages of World

(in descending order of population)