There are almost 8 billion people in the world that live in more than 190 different countries. We all speak different languages. There are actually thousands of languages, but a small portion of languages is actually spoken by the majority of the world. There are a lot of countries that have the same language.
Some countries simply have more population and their language is spoken by millions, while others are with smaller population but the language is also used in different countries. One example is the Spanish language. Spain has around 46 million people, but the Spanish language is spoken by more than 500 million people.
If we combine the top 10 most spoken languages we would get around 60% of the total world population. So which languages are the most spoken?
What is language
There are billions of people that live on Earth, we all communicate with other humans. Years ago you would need to speak only your native language to communicate with people as most of them were your countrymen. With technology improvement, communication with people from different countries is a lot easier.
Language is a system of communication. People can use it to talk to one another, which is the spoken form of the language. This is the most basic usage, as even newborns learn it. We can also use gestures to communicate, which sometimes we do when we don’t find the proper word to use, and of course, there are languages that are entirely made of gestures – such as sign language. There is also the written form of the language, which is a little harder to learn, as it requires a proper spelling of each word.
Sounds that we make when speaking is represented by symbols. In some language you read exactly letter by letter to say the words, and in some, such as the English language, depending on the word and the letter position and combination it can be pronounced differently. For example the word kick, the letter k is pronounced, however in the word know, the k is silent.
Languages are represented by sounds and people understand them and their meaning. Words can be used to describe a physical thing such as object (for example a ball) or abstract things such as ideas.
The five major components of a language are phonemes, morphemes, lexemes, syntax, and context.
- Phoneme – this is the smallest unit of sound in speech. For example, the word tap has three different phonemes n a p.
- Morpheme – The smallest part of a word that can have a meaning. Example outstanding – would have 2 morphemes out and standing.
- Lexeme – this is the basic unit of the meaning of a language. It can be a word or a combination of words. Examples dog, walk, dance, public office.
- Syntax – this is the arrangement of words and phrases of a sentence in a language.
- Context – this is the details that form the setting of an event, statement or idea. It helps a person understand the meaning of the words. Words can have different meanings depending on the context. For example the word bank can mean a side of a river or a place where people go to withdraw money.
How many languages are there
There are thousands of languages that are used in the world. However, as we already mentioned, even though there are billions of people and more than 190 different countries, a majority of the world speaks a dozen languages. The exact number of languages that are used in the world is unknown, but estimates suggest it is more than 6500.
The most spoken languages in the world
- English – the most spoken language in the world. There are more than 1.1 billion people that use English to communicate. 67 different countries use English as an official language.
- Mandarin Chinese – more than 1.1 billion people use the Chinese language to communicate.
- Hindi – 615 million speakers use this language. This is the official language of India.
- Spanish – it has more than 530 million speakers. Spanish is the official language in 20 different countries such as Puerto Rico, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, and many more.
- French – the french language has more than 280 million speakers. It is the official language of 29 countries.
- Standard Arabic – more than 270 million speakers. Arabic is the official language for 25 countries. Some of them include Algeria, Bahrain, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, and more.
- Bengali – more than 260 million speakers.
- Russian – around 150 million speakers. It is the official language of Russia.
- Japanese – the official language of Japan. It has more than 128 million speakers.
- Lahnda – 118 million speakers.