Most Used Languages in the World
There’s many languages spoken in today’s world. But have you ever wondered which languages are currently the most frequently spoken throughout the world? Let’s look at the top five languages spoken by the majority of the world’s population:
Chinese — 1.3 Billion Native Speakers
The number of native speakers varies greatly — Ethnologue estimates 1.3 billion native speakers, with about 1.1 billion speaking Mandarin — but there’s little doubt it’s the most commonly spoken language on the planet. This is the language to learn if you want to learn a language spoken by one in every six people on the planet. Because Chinese is a tonal language with hundreds of logograms, it will keep you occupied for a long time.
Spanish — 471 Million Native Speakers
If we just consider native speakers, Spanish has a slight lead over English, with 471 million speakers. Spanish is the greatest language to learn if you wish to travel across continents. The politics of language and related identity are hotly disputed, as they are for all of the languages on this list: ask Catalan or Quechua speakers if Spanish is their native tongue, and you will receive a completely different answer. However, it is the predominant language of the vast majority of South and Central America, Spain, and, ahem, significant swaths of the United States.
English — 370 Million Native Speakers
If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of the 370 million people who speak English natively, or one of the 978 million who do so as a second language. This demonstrates English’s amazing success as the global language of business, travel, and international relations. Because of the relative simplicity with which English may be learned (particularly as compared to Chinese) and the widespread soft power of American culture, English will continue to rule the international stage for the foreseeable future. For some, English still connotes possibility and a higher standard of living.
Hindi — 342 Million Native Speakers
India has 23 national languages, the most common of which are Hindi and Urdu. It’s still up for dispute whether this is one language – Hindustani — or two dialects. Hindi, which is spoken mostly in northern India and portions of Pakistan, is written in devnagri script, whereas Urdu is written in Persian notation. At the time of writing, the debate over its place in Indian education and society has erupted once more: Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi is attempting to have Hindi replace English as the primary language of official communication and education in southern Indian states, a strategy that has been met with opposition. A little Hindi will get you a long way if you ever travel to the Indian subcontinent. What’s not to like about a language that brought us shampoo, forest, jodhpurs, and bungalows?
Arabic — 315 Million Native Speakers
According to recent estimates, Arabic has about 315 million native speakers. However, here’s another example of stats not revealing the whole story: Arabic, like Chinese, is so diverse in its dialects that it is basically a collection of languages put together for convenience’s sake. Modern Standard Arabic is largely a written language that is closely connected to the Quran’s Classical Arabic. The spoken forms of Arabic in places like Oman and Morocco, on the other hand, are so dissimilar that a pair of philosophy professors from these nations could be able to discuss the finer points of ancient literature while yet failing to order lunch.