Linguists estimate that there are anywhere from 6,800 to 6,900 languages in the modern world today. English is widely spoken, but French Russian, Portuguese and German are also popular. Out of all these languages, linguists recognize the top five most spoken languages in the world.
If you think it’s English, you are in for a surprise. It’s not surprising that most of these languages are also recognized as the official languages of the United Nations, the largest organization of nations in the world.
Here are the top five most spoken languages in the world.
Most of the people in North Africa as well as in the Middle East speak Arabic, placing it as the fifth most used language in the world.
There are almost half a billion people in the world that speak Hindustani. Although there are almost as many people in India (it is the second most populated country in the world) as there are in China, English is still primarily used, competing with the use of Hindustani. Studies show that in a few decades, the population of India will surpass that of China, but it won’t necessarily follow that Hindustani will be the most popular language in the world.
English is the primary language of at least 5.5% of the world’s population. It is spoken in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, the continent of Australia as well as in Ireland, New Zealand and South Africa. In North America, 70% of the population speak English.
English is the most popular second language for many people who don’t use it as their primary language. It is the language used in business, making it a must for people to learn it. In fact, there are more English speakers in China, than there are in the country of the United States.
Almost 6% of the world’s total population or a total of 407 million native speakers speak Spanish as their primary language. This language is mainly spoken in South America and Central American countries, Spain, many parts of the United States as well as Equatorial Guinea. In North America, Spanish is used by at least 9% of the population. Spanish has some similarities to Portuguese. Many English language words originated from Spanish, such as the words patio, tornado and bonanza.
More than 14% of the world’s total population speak Chinese or Mandarin. Those in China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore speak Mandarin as their primary language. Of course, the bulk of the Mandarin speakers can be found in Mainland China, with a population of 1.3 billion. In Asia and the Pacific, 34% of the population speak Mandarin. Even with all the dialects spoken within China, Mandarin is the most popular dialect and is recognized as the country’s official language. About 955 million people are native speakers of this language making it the most spoken language in the world.