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Do you know how many languages there are in the world and what the most commonly spoken ones are? What is the status of Vietnamese and why are these languages so widely spoken? Let’s explore the answers right here in the following article.
How many languages are there in the world?
There are numerous organizations that perform statistics on the total number of languages as well as the languages that are most widely spoken today. According to an update from Ethnologue (2019), a prestigious electronic publication that provides statistics on the world’s languages and dialects, there are about 7,111 languages that exist globally.
However, a large number of living languages are gradually disappearing over time. The disappearance of a language usually occurs when no more children learn to speak it and older people speaking the native language pass away. Linguists estimate that about 3,000 of the languages listed by Ethnologue may completely vanish within the next century if the “extinction” trend persists.
The 10 most spoken languages in the world today
What are the most widely spoken languages in the world today, out of the seven thousand languages listed above? Let’s explore right away in the following sequel.
Leading the way in the world’s top most spoken languages is English, with over 1.3 billion speakers, including native and non-native speakers; in which non-native English speakers account for more, and the largest number is in Africa.
Currently, English is a common language spoken in 146 countries. It is also the language used in global trade and diplomatic transactions. This popularity comes from the influence of the British Empire in the previous colonial conquests and later from the cultural influence of America, the country with the leading developed economy in the world.
Notable countries that speak English are: the U.K, India, Belize, Botswana, Brunei, Cameroon, Canada, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gambia, Guyana, USA, Korea, Israel, Lesotho, Liberia, Malaysia, Micronesia, Namibia, South Africa, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Suriname, Tonga, Australia, Vanuatu, Vietnam, Zimbabwean, etc.
Ranked 2nd on the list is Chinese (Chinese), with more than 1.2 billion users. In fact, Chinese has many different dialects, but the most common are three types, including Mandarin, Cantonese, and Wu.
In particular, Mandarin is the most widely spoken language by the majority of the population of China, the world’s most populous country.
Next is Cantonese, which is used by about 85 million people in Guangdong, Guangxi, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, and other countries in Southeast Asia.
Finally, Wu Chinese is spoken by about 82 million Chinese, most commonly in southeastern China such as Zhejiang, Shanghai, South Jiangsu, etc.
Hindi is among the top 10 most spoken languages in the world and is widely used by the population of India, the 3rd most populous country in the world. Like English, Hindi, written in the Devanagari script, is one of the 22 official languages recognized by the Indian government.
However, this is not the national language of India because it is not mentioned in the constitution. The number of people speaking this language is about 637 million including in India, Pakistan, Fiji, Trinidad, Tobago, Suriname, Mauritius, Nepal, etc.
Originally, Hindi was the standardized and Sanskritized form of the language derived from Hindustani. This is an indigenous language that comes from the land known as the Hindi belt of India. In particular, Urdu speakers can also understand Hindi, as this is another standard form of Hindustani.
Spanish, also known as Castilian, is spoken by 542 million people and is ranked 4th among the top 10 most spoken languages in the world. Of the more than 500 million people worldwide, about 471 million speak Spanish as their mother tongue.
Besides Spain, Castilian is also the official language of 21 countries in the regions of Equatorial Guinea, North America, and South America, etc. In terms of characteristics, Spanish belongs to the Iberian Romance languages, derived from the Latin of the Roman Empire.
With more than 277 million speakers, French is the fifth most widely spoken language in the world. It is the official language of 29 countries with popularity spanning many continents such as Europe, Africa, America, etc.
Among them, Africa has the most French-speaking countries, which is considered the second language on the continent. Some countries in Africa also consider French to be the official language, such as Gabon, Abidjan, and the Ivory Coast. In the Americas, about 29% of the population of Canada considers French their mother tongue. Some regions have spoken French as a commonly spoken language, such as Nunavut, Yukon, Quebec, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Gabon, Guinea, Haiti, Laos, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Mauritania, Monaco, Niger, France, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Chad, Switzerland, Togo, Tunisia, Vanuatu, Vietnam, etc.
In terms of characteristics, French belonged to the Indo-European languages, which originated in the Latin Vulgar region of Ancient Rome. Then it flourished in Gallo-Romance, especially in northern Gaul. In particular, French is considered one of the most romantic languages in the world.
Number 6 in the world’s most spoken languages is Arabic, the oldest human language, with more than 280 million users. Currently, Arabic is the official language of 26 countries and is the language used for Muslim celebrations. It is also one of the six official languages of the United Nations.
Arabic is most commonly used in the countries in the Middle East region, such as Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the UAE, Egypt, etc. However, spoken Arabic is different among these countries and is often classified into groups such as Standard Arabic, Egyptian Arabic, and Northeast African Arabic, in which Egyptian Arabic is the most popular language with more than 89 million speakers.
And standard Arabic (common in Middle Eastern countries) is a commonly used language in conversation and writing, for example, in the Quran, literature, business communication, and interpersonal communication. The Arabic alphabet, called abjad, is written in a right-to-left direction and is quite popular for its extremely complicated letters.
Bengali, or Bangla, is spoken by 268 million people and is the 7th most commonly spoken language in the world. This language belongs to the Indo – European languages and is influenced by other languages of South Asia such as Tibeto-Burma, Dravida, etc.
Currently, Bengali is the national language and official language in Bangladesh. It is also the second most spoken language in India and is recognized as the official language in some parts of the country such as Tripura, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, West Bengal, Assam (Barak Valley), etc.
Ranked 8th in the ranking of the world’s most popular languages in Ethnologue (updated 2020) is Russian. The number of people using the language globally is about 258 million, mainly in Russia. Next are countries including Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Baltic, Caucasus, Mongolia, Israel, Central Asia, etc.
It is one of the six official languages recognized by the United Nations and the second most popular language on the internet after English. Russian is the most spoken native language in Europe, originating in the Indo-European languages. One of the surviving languages belongs to the East Slavic group as well as being part of the larger Balto-Slavic clade and has “kinsmen” with Ukrainian and Belarusian.
The 9th most spoken language in the world is Portuguese, with 252 million speakers. Native speakers make up about 215 million, and over 40 million people use it as their second language.
Portuguese is the only official language in Portugal, Angola, Brazil, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, São Tomé, and Príncipe. It is also the co-official language in Equatorial Guinea, Macau, and East Timor.
Besides, it is also the 3rd most common European language in the world, with wide coverage in South America, the entire southern hemisphere, and Latin America. It also ranks among the top 10 most spoken languages in Africa. In terms of origin, Portuguese belongs to the Romance languages derived from the Iberian Peninsula in Europe.
10. Bahasa Indonesia
Bahasa Indonesia ranks 10th among the world’s top 10 most spoken languages, with over 199 million speakers. It is the second most widely spoken language in East Timor, which used to be a province of Indonesia from 1975 to 1999. It is also the official language of Indonesia.
As an official dialect of Malay, Indonesian also refers to as Bahasa Indonesian, originated from the Malayo-Polynesian languages. In fact, Bahasa Indonesia speakers can almost understand the Malay language in Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, part of Thailand, etc.
Furthermore, Indonesian is a fairly easy language to learn as it uses the Latin alphabet to transliterate and borrows vocabulary from other languages such as Portuguese, English, and Dutch. However, the majority of people often communicate in dialect Indonesian instead of standard Indonesian, and each region has its own distinctive dialects.
Top other world’s most popular languages
Following the top 10 most spoken languages in the world, we also have 5 more languages with a large number of speakers and increasing popularity globally.
After Indonesian, Urdu is one of the most popular languages in the world today, with more than 171 million speakers. This language is currently considered the national language and official language in Pakistan. In India, Urdu is one of the 22 official languages recognized by the Constitution, and six states in the country consider it an official language, such as Delhi, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Telangana, Jammu, and Kashmir.
Characteristically, Urdu can be almost fully understood by standard Hindi, as both languages are standardized from Hindustani. However, in terms of writing and vocabulary, Urdu uses the Indo-Persian alphabet. In addition, the vocabulary of Urdu is influenced by Prakrit, Sanskrit, English, Arabic, and Persian.
One of the world’s 15 most spoken languages, with 132 million speakers, is German. It is the most commonly spoken indigenous language in Europe and is an official language in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, South Tyrol (Italy), Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, and Opolskie (Poland).
In the United States, German is the third most commonly taught language after Spanish and French. German is also the 3rd most used language on the internet after English and Russian. In science, the number of research papers published in German is currently ranked second in the world.
In terms of character, German belongs to the West Germanic languages, which are related to English, Dutch, and Afrikaans. It is also the second-most spoken Germanic language in the world after English.
The 13th most spoken language in the world is Japanese, with over 126 million speakers. It is the official language in Japan and is widely spoken in Japanese migrant communities around the globe.
Japanese is part of the East Asian language group and is considered one of the most difficult languages to learn in the world. Because of the complexity of the alphabet system with three different types of alphabets, along with the honorific system, the complex social hierarchy is accompanied by variable forms of verbs or vocabulary.
Although difficult to learn, the development of economics, science, and technology, as well as education and entertainment in Japan led to a large number of foreigners wanting to immigrate to the country to study and work. This has provided an opportunity for a sharp increase in the number of Japanese speakers around the world.
Swahili or Kiswahili is the world’s most spoken language at number 14 with over 99 million speakers. Countries that recognize Swahili as a national language include Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda, and it is spoken as a common language throughout West Africa. Particularly, there are more people who speak Kiswahili as a second language than as their mother tongue.
In terms of origin, Swahili belongs to the Bantu languages, which have much in common with Kinyarwanda, Zulu, and Lingala, although the vocabulary of Swahili is profoundly influenced by Arabic, even the name “Swahili” is derived from Arabic.
Finally, the 15th most spoken language in the world today is Marathi, with 95 million users. This is a language belonging to the Sanskrit branch of the Indo-Aryan languages, spoken mainly by Marathi people in Maharashtra (India). It is also the official language in this region as well as co-official in Goa – one of the two states of western India.
Where is Vietnamese in the ranking of the most popular languages in the world?
According to Ethnologue 2020, Vietnam is in 23rd place among the most spoken languages in the world today, reaching over 77 million users. The majority of people who speak Vietnamese as their mother tongue are citizens living in Vietnam. Others speak Vietnamese as a second language, including ethnic minority communities and foreigners who come to Vietnam to study and work. Next is the Vietnamese migrant community across the globe.
Vietnamese is a South Asian language, and as a result of its geographical proximity to East Asia, Chinese has also had an impact on Vietnamese vocabulary. Vietnamese’s vocabulary system is enriched, but it also distinguishes it from other South Asian languages.
Tomato provides services for the world’s most spoken languages
Tomato Media is a company you shouldn’t overlook if you’re looking for translation services for the most widely used languages in the world. It is one of the leading Asian language solutions, with countless advantages, such as:
- An ISO 9001:2015 service quality management system helps strictly control the process to minimize possible errors.
- Experienced and well-trained staff with a bachelor’s degree or higher and at least 4 years of experience in the profession.
- Tomato now has more than 100 official professionals and 3000+ collaborators, ready to meet more than 100 specializations in the most spoken languages in the world today.
We offer a variety of commonly spoken languages nowadays:
For more information about the most spoken languages in the world today for which Tomato is providing services, you can contact us immediately via our hotline (Zalo) at 0938 596 333. The company’s consultants will provide more specific answers and consultations on the cost that best suits the needs of customers.
Frequently asked questions about the world’s most spoken languages
Here are the frequently asked questions about the world’s most spoken languages that we have compiled:
What are the top 10, 20, and 25 most-used languages?
According to current statistics, the top 10 most spoken languages are:
Besides the top 10 most spoken languages, there are also languages in the top 20 below that are being spoken more and more widely.
In addition, the following 5 languages are gradually spoken because of the cultural and economic development of countries.
- Egyptian Arabic
Here are the top 25 most spoken languages.
What are the most powerful languages in the world?
According to PLI 2016, there are also six languages considered the most powerful in the world and six official languages of the United Nations.
This is the language that scores the highest in all evaluation criteria and is also the official language of the three most developed countries in the G7 group (USA, UK, and Canada).
According to the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF), there are about 274 million French speakers worldwide.
- Japanese and German
In third place, Japanese and German are considered the most powerful languages in the world because these two countries have high results in economic criteria.
Arabic is widely used in the United Arab Emirates, which demonstrates its geographic strengths.
It is the most spoken language in Latin American countries.
What are the most common languages in Vietnam?
Vietnamese is the official language of Vietnam, so it is also the most spoken language. However, due to the development process both economically and culturally, trade between countries is expanding, and there are many languages that are gradually becoming popular in Vietnam, including English, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc.
What is the second-most spoken language in the world?
Ranked immediately after English, the world’s second-most spoken language is Chinese, with about 1,120 million users. Not only because the Chinese population ranks first in the world but also because Chinese people are present in almost all countries around the globe, Chinese culture is also an attraction that many people want to learn about and explore.
What is the most widely spoken language in Asia?
In Asia, almost every country has its own official language. The most widely used languages in Asia, though, are those like:
What is the most spoken language in Europe?
Undoubtedly, the most spoken language in Europe is English, with about 1,268 million speakers, or an estimated 38% of Europe’s population.
What is the most widely spoken language in South America?
South America is the continental part of the Americas, which extends from the south of the Panama Canal downward. Most of the Latin American region belongs to this region because the indigenous population mainly uses Portuguese and Spanish to communicate and exchange information.
What is the most widely spoken language in Africa?
Estimates of the number of languages spoken by people in Africa range from 1500 to 3000. Only about 100 of these are widely used. Meanwhile, 75 languages are spoken by 1 million people in Africa in everyday life.
One of the most widely spoken languages is:
- Swahili (about 150 million speakers)
- Arabic (100 million speakers)
- French (90 million speakers)
- Hausa (80 million speakers)
- Yoruba and Oromo (30 million speakers)
Hopefully the article on the top most popular languages in the world today has provided you with useful information to refer to and improve your knowledge.