What is the most widely spoken language in the world? Is it English? Maybe Chinese? Before answering these questions, there are fun facts that can help you understand the impact of the languages that top the list of the most spoken on the planet.
According to documentary sources, there are 7,099 living languages, distributed among almost 7,000 million speakers. It is surprising that almost 3 billion people use oral and written communication in just 8 languages. This represents 40% of the planet’s population.
These 8 ways of communicating, which account for the bulk of the most widely spoken languages in the world, are followed by 82 other languages, with which 39% of the world’s population communicate. In other words, 80% of humanity depends on 90 languages as their first language to communicate, while 20% use the remaining: 7,009 languages to understand each other every day.
If you search the Internet for the phrase: “ranking of most spoken languages” or “which is the most spoken language in the world”, you can narrow the list to 15 languages that are most spoken in the world. There are several surprises that anyone who is curious to know which are the five languages with the greatest number of speakers.
1. Mandarin Chinese
What is the most widely spoken language in the world? It is Mandarin Chinese. The fact is that, of all the languages in the world, Mandarin Chinese is part of a family of 13 languages that exist in China, Singapore, Taiwan and 34 other countries. Out of 1,284 million people who speak Chinese, 898 million speak Mandarin Chinese.
As the world’s first language, in practical terms it can be said that 1 out of every 6 people on the planet communicates in Mandarin. What characterizes the world’s first language is that each word can be pronounced in four different ways, which makes it quite difficult for non-native speakers to learn.
After knowing the most spoken language in the world, you have to move to second place. It may come as a surprise to many to learn that Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the world.
This Romance language, which comes from spoken Latin, is the form of communication used by 437 million people in 31 countries and on 5 continents. There are statistics that place the number of Spanish speakers in the world at 567 million.
In Spain, South and Central America, as well as in many areas of the United States, Spanish or Castilian is the first language of native speakers. At the United Nations it is one of the six official languages.
Spanish has evolved from the vulgar Latin that was spoken in the times of the Roman Empire. At present, in Spain this language coexists with three other languages: Galician, Catalan and Basque.
Among the three most widely spoken languages in the world, English is undoubtedly the most popular. It ranks third among the most widely spoken languages in the world, as it is estimated that nearly 400 million people in 106 countries have English as their first language, while some 600 million study or speak it as a second language.
If you look for “what language is most spoken in the world”, English is among the first three, although there are those who place it in second place. Among its advantages, English has grammatical simplicity, being recognized as the official language of more countries. In the United States, Australia, South Africa, Canada and New Zealand it is the official language.
Hindi is estimated to be a language with more than 310 million speakers. It is used mainly in Nepal, India and three other countries. In India alone, there are 23 official languages, most of which are derived from Hindi or Urdu.
In some rankings of the 15 most widely spoken languages in the world, Hindi may appear in fifth place, but it is undoubtedly one of the most dialects in the world. More than 120 million people use it as their second language. Its origin is Sanskrit, with blends of Persian and Arabic.
Among the 5 most widely spoken languages in the world is Arabic, one of the oldest languages. It is considered the most difficult to translate, as it is written from right to left, without forgetting that it has a large number of dialects that are difficult to understand.
It is spoken by about 250 million people in 57 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco and Sudan. Millions of Muslims have it as their language, classical Arabic being a sacred language for Islam. The Quran is only recited in this language during prayers.
242 million people speak Bengali. It is the language used in South Asia, where Bangladesh is (there is the official language) and West Bengal. There are groups in India that also have it as their mother tongue.
Bengali is one of the 23 official languages that are recognized in India. In its alphabetical structure there are 7 vowels and 29 consonants. 6 vowels are pronounced nasally. Among its curiosities it can be mentioned that it has a large number of diphthongs. In writing, the abugida system and its brahmic root stand out.
The times when Portugal was at the forefront of conquests by sea and land made the Portuguese spread far beyond its borders in the Iberian Peninsula. Thanks to explorers like Vasco Da Gama and Magellan, this language passed from Europe to Asia, Africa and America.
Portuguese is in seventh place because it is spoken by about 219 million people in 13 countries, including Angola and Mozambique (Africa), Brazil (America) and Macao (Asia). It has very interesting peculiarities, such as its 11 vowels with nasal variants and open and closed forms, as well as different types of accents, which can make it complex. It is a language that cannot be missing from this list of the most widely spoken languages in the world.
Various statistics place Russian as the language used by some 154 million speakers in 19 countries, although it is estimated that more than 170 million use it as their native language. This places it in the 8th position in the ranking of the most spoken languages.
It is one of the six official languages spoken at the United Nations and, according to linguistics experts, it is one of the world’s most difficult languages to learn and master by those who speak Spanish or English. Its complexity stems from its Cyrillic alphabet of 21 consonants, 11 vowels plus two letters that have no sound. One of its peculiarities is that there are Russian words with French and Spanish roots.
About 130 million people speak and write Japanese as their native language. It is a language quite concentrated in the same geographical area (Japan), although it is also spoken in the United States and the Philippines.
Japanese began to be written from the Chinese ideograms or kanjis, in the 3rd century AD. It has more than 10,000 kanjis, it is written vertically, it uses two phonetic alphabets and words that sound the same, but that mean different things.
In India and Pakistan, Punjabi is one of the most widely spoken languages. Although it is hard to believe, 119 million people use it as their native language. It is so widespread that Bollywood filmmakers make films in Hindi and Punjabi.
It is also called the Lahnda language, being an Indo-European language related to Sanskrit, Hindi, Urdu, Sindhi, and Gujarati. It is spoken in eastern and western Punjab, as well as in Delhi and West Bengal. There are areas of Canada and the United Kingdom where it is used, being the sacred liturgical language of those who profess the Sikh religion.