Here is the list of the 10 most spoken languages
This article deals with the 10 most spoken languages all over the world. The study of language can reveal telling details of humankind. How people speak is not only a reflection of their culture but actually plays a part in forming that culture.
It is well known that the way we communicate with each other influences the meaning of what it is we are communicating. People in China, South America, and Mexico all great each other with the same concept of “Hello” but sub-communicate vastly different messages, which are only obvious to those with a truly full grasp of the different connotations each set of words provide.
The differences are not the fascinating part of language though— the most interesting element of language study is indeed the ways that we are the same, not different.
Many words do have similar origins after all but then drift apart slightly with the subtleties that we spoke of a moment ago.
No doubt, we are all familiar with the English word starve. Not everyone is aware however that it shares roots with the Dutch word sterven, as well as with the German word sterben. With a cursory glance, one can see that these words clearly look the same.
This is because they share a common etymological origin, which makes them what linguists would know as cognates.
The word “cognate” comes from the Latin word cognatus— “blood relatives”.
The English version of this word means to go hungry. The German version? To die. Literally translating this word does actually give us similar meaning, but that is where it ends. Most people speaking English would never say “I’m starving!” to imply that their actual death is imminent.
They are merely hungry.
This being said, the world’s languages are all tied together more closely than one might initially believe. It is true that we are not as removed from our neighbors as we might think.
Fascinatingly, through language, we are tied to people that live their lives half of a world away. On a micro level, we sound very different from each other in the ways that we communicate. Upon expanding our view to a macro level and taking a closer look at where we come from, we can see that in spite of these differences there is indeed a lot in common between most people in the way they speak to each other.
So let us take a look at what the most common languages are around the globe, what they mean to the people who speak them, and how they might just relate to your way of life much more than you ever would have imagined. Lets see about the 10 most spoke languages throughout the world.
Words have immense power, and a language is a powerful tool in manipulating this power.
Learn more about the different cultures of our world!
1. Chinese (Mandarin)
Most people are beginning to realize that the Chinese language has a stronghold, simply because their populations are so great. With such an immense number of people in China, it stands to reason that whatever language they speak would have a real impact on the world. Chinese is widely spread and one of the most spoke languages all over the world.
The sheer numbers in China also make it difficult to know for certain what people are speaking though. The vast geography lends itself to a variety of regional dialects, and the line that defines the differences between dialects or a true language is really somewhat blurry.
The official language of China is the most popular dialect they have though, Mandarin.
Even somewhat recently, English was the second most spoken language in the world, but this has changed with the rapid growth of Spanish throughout the globe. Even in English speaking countries like the United States, Spanish is a surprisingly popular language, with many native speakers moving there and bringing their home language with them.
Although not in second place any longer, English still holds its ranking high up on the list of the world’s most common languages.
Travel the world, and this will not surprise you, as English will for the most part get you by. Everyone seems to know a little bit about it.
It is worth noting that population numbers alone do not control the popularity of the language, but that there are also sociological factors at play such as economic elements, with major languages also being big players in the global economy. We see this to an especially large degree with Mandarin and English.
The next language on the list might sound shocking at first, but actually makes a lot of sense when we start to break down the numbers.
It sounds exotic, but the huge (and always growing) population of India has 260,000,000 people speaking Hindi, giving them an important place on the list of the most spoken languages around the world. In India, there are 22 official languages and Hindi is one of the languages.
Similarly to China, the issue of dialect arises. With India’s huge geography lending itself to minor changes across the country, we have different forms of Hindi all over. Little nuances in dialect are to be expected though, and this is the language one would need to successfully navigate the Indian landscape.
This is not to say however that India is the only language that speaks Hindi, with it also being found in South Africa and Nepal.
Maintaining the trend away from Germanic Languages, we move on to Arabic, another language with hundreds of millions of speakers. Arabic is also one of the widely spread and most spoken languages.
Largely, Arabic speaking countries are located in the Middle East and North Africa, consisting of places such as Iran, Kenya, Chad, and Mozambique.
As a very ancient language, Arabic has been influential in the development of many others, with it actually being the choice of academic and literary culture within Europe during the Middle Ages.
Arabic itself evolved from base languages like Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, before helping to give shape to other languages on this list such as Hindi.
A close relative of Spanish, Portuguese make the list with its stronghold in major countries such as Brazil, Portugal, and Angola.
As a lesser-known Romance language, it has been held in high regard by authors for its elegant and subtle beauty, is very pleasing to partake in.
Although it has a huge influence in South America, it is often ranked as the third most spoken language in Europe, also has Latin roots. After growing from Latin in Europe, it was transported to South America in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Bengali often strikes people as a surprising language to make the list of the top ten most spoken languages, but that is not accounting for the sheer geographic influence of the Bengal region. This area consists of the country of Bangladesh as well as the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura, and southern Assam.
In fact, the national anthem of India was originally composed in Bengali, showing that it has had a significant historical influence on the region.
One will notice a theme developing, in which the languages of this list are either spoken by geographically enormous countries or a series of countries that achieve the same effect, collectively.
Russian is no different.
Spoken as a native language in Russia, the Ukraine, and Belarus it remains as one of the largest European languages. It is the most widespread Slavic language, and globally quite important, which is shown through the fact that it is one of the unofficial languages of the United Nations.
With Japanese, we finally reach a language that does not have obvious geographic dominion over the others, but nonetheless has managed t0 develop a heavy influence on the world.
Japanese is one of the most interesting languages on the list though because unlike the European languages that we have a strong grasp on the roots of, we know virtually nothing about Japanese in that regard.
Also worth noting is that while it does not actually share any developmental relation to Chinese, they now utilize many shared characters, which tends to lead people to the wrong assumptions.
The crossover towards traditional European text only presents itself in their limited use of Arabic numbering, which is combined with Chinese numbering as well.
Lastly, we reach a language that many western people have never even heard of, Punjabi.
With about one-third of the populations that the other languages have (Punjabi coming in at right around 100 million speakers), they still represent a truly significant contingent of language.
It is the first language of Pakistan, and as such provides a substantial influence on the Middle East. It is also the third most spoken language on the Indian subcontinent as a whole, which is what lends it the geographic power necessary to make this list.
Interestingly, the growth of Bollywood movie culture has been a catalyst for the growth of the Punjabi language, as the moviemakers have taken to mixing in its vocabulary to their films, thus expanding the realm of people with exposure to it.
As is evidenced by this list, there are a variety of factors that play into the overall popularity of a language on a global scale.
In large part, geography is what determines how many people a language will spread to, and the overall influence that it will have on those people. We also see that a language can pass through many different countries and cover a vast global area because of its historical influence. Portuguese is a great example of this occurring, having crossed continents and used its historical Romance status as a means of taking hold.
On the other hand, we have languages such as Hindi and Russian that have largely become ubiquitous in their respective locations because of the sheer numbers of people that they reflect.
Most importantly though, we see that the spread of language does not leave these different locations as separate entities, but indeed ties them together through the nature of their languages. As a language spreads, it does not make sharp fissures within itself, but actually evolves through slow changes that do not leave gaps between themselves.
This is quite evident with Chinese and Japanese in the way they borrow characters from each other without even having basic evolutionary similarities.
Overall, this is the value that we can take away from lists such as this: as a global community, we are not all that different— even if we sound that way. Just look at the way our languages are formed, and you will see the connection that underlies us all. I hope you got an idea about the 1o most spoken languages all over the world.
If you want to learn more about the different cultures of our world, we have a course called The Global Citizen Training that is designed to increase the global competency of the participants.