Today the world speaks between 6 and 7 thousand tongues, but their popularity is very, very different. Some of them, such as English for example, serve as a primary means of communication for people from different nations, while others are distributed only within small communities. Over 4.5 billion people in the world (or over half the population of the planet) speak one of the ten most common languages.
1. Chinese. Chinese is spoken by 1.2 billion people in the world. It is an official language in China and Taiwan, and it is also one of the official languages of the United Nations, Brunei, Singapore, Hong Kong and others. Around 850 million speakers of Chinese use Mandarin, the most popular dialect.
Today, almost all major cities in North America, South America, Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand have smaller or larger communities of people who speak Chinese. In recent years, the importance of the Chinese language is growing.
2. English. English is the native language of over 375 million people worldwide. If we add the number of people who speak English as a second official language, the number rises to over 750 million people.
If we include all the people in the world who speak English well enough to hold a conversation, then the number exceeds one billion.
English is the main language in the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and others. It is spoken by hundreds of millions of Europeans and Indians, and it is one of the official languages of the UN.
Every year millions of people around the world start to learn English, and their number increases constantly.
3. Spanish. Spanish is among the most famous languages in the world. It is spoken by more than 500 million people worldwide. Over 400 million of them are native speakers.
It is one of the official languages of the UN and is spoken in Spain, most of Central and South America, parts of the United States (especially in the south and southwest), the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, some Mediterranean, Atlantic and Pacific Islands.
Today Spanish is the second most preferred language in the world for business and studying after English.
4. Hindi. At the beginning of the 21st century about 497 million people in the world speak Hindi. Most of them live in India and Nepal, but in many parts of the world there are small communities of Indian immigrants speaking the language.
Typical feature of Hindi is that it is spoken by a large number of people, but it is distributed in a small area, and in particular only in Hindustan Peninsula in South Asia.
5. Arabic. Arabic is spoken by about 422 million people. It is distributed mainly in Southwest Asia and North Africa. Its dialects differ significantly from each other.
Today, Arabic is an important business language since the region has a large number of countries that are very rich in oil, which makes them desirable business partners. Moreover, Arabic is one of the six official languages of the UN.
6. French. Around the world there are approximately 110 million native French speakers. If we add all the people who speak French as a second or foreign language, the number reaches at least 300 million people.
French is the official language in 29 countries. In addition to France, it is one of the official languages in Canada (especially in the eastern parts of the country), Switzerland, Belgium, large parts of Central and West Africa and many others.
In many large cities in Europe and North America has French speaking minorities, particularly in London and New Orleans. French is one of the official languages of the United Nations.
7. Russian. Russian is one of the six official languages of the UN, as well as it is an official language of the Russian Federation.
In addition, it is widespread in many former Soviet republics, especially Ukraine and Belarus. Today the total number of people that speak Russian is approximately 269 million people. About 155 million of them are native Russian speakers.
The language is particularly important in Eastern Europe because of the large number of tourists from the Russian-speaking countries who spend their summer holidays in the region.
8. Bengali. Around 250 million people worldwide speak Bengali – the official language of Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Most of the population that speaks Bengali is concentrated in a relatively small area.
The language is not very popular outside the borders of Bangladesh. It is spoken only in some parts of India and Sierra Leone.
9. Portuguese. Approximately 240 million people worldwide speak Portuguese. About 215 million of them are native speakers.
As in Brazil lives more than half the population of South America, Portuguese is the most common language on the continent.
10. Japanese. Japanese is the official language of Japan. Because of the economic power and population density in the country, the language is one of the ten most popular on the planet. Today, around the world there are approximately 125 million people that speak Japanese.
Most of them are native speakers and live in Japan. In many other states, however, there are compact groups of people who speak Japanese as a mother language.
Most of them are immigrants in some of the major cities in Europe, North America and Australia.