Indeed, the number of people speaking English as a second language is a huge figure, but if we count native speakers, other languages outrank it.
To illustrate this, we have compiled a useful list of the top 10 languages in the world below. Enjoy!
10. Punjabi, a language spoken in the Punjab region of India and Pakistan has some 102 million native speakers. With such a figure, it is the largest language in Pakistan and the 11th most widely spoken in India.
9. With 125 million speakers, Japanese is ranked as the 9th most widely spoken language in the world. Its origins are uncertain, however its use was first documented in the 3rd century.
8. Russian is not only spoken in the wide expanses of Russia, but also widely used in Ukraine and the group of countries called the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The number of native speakers is estimated at around 155 million.
7. At number seven, Bengali comes in with around 205 million native speakers. It is the official language of Bangladesh, but it is also common in a number of countries such as India, Sierra Leone and Pakistan.
6. Portuguese with its 215 million native speakers is spoken not only in Portugal, but in many South American and African countries. Some of these include countries such as Brazil, Angola, Mozambique and Cape Verde.
5. Arabic is the dominating language of many areas in the Middle East and Northern Africa, but it is also the ‘liturgical’ language of Islam. With around 295 million people speaking Arabic, it is placed as the world’s fifth largest language. Given its size, many different dialects of the language exist, some of which are very dissimilar.
4. Hindi claims the title as the fourth largest language, which is widely spoken in India, Nepal, Fiji and Pakistan. Almost 310 million people are native speakers, but similarly to Arabic many different dialects exist.
3. As stated in the introduction, English is not as large as you’d think. At number 3, however it is still spoken by an estimated number of 360 million people. Besides being the official language of the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand, it is also spoken by many as a second language.
2. Spanish speakers comprise some 6.15% of the world’s population, amounting to around 405 million people. It is widely spoken throughout South America and Mexico but also in the United States. Interesting to note is that in total almost 560 million people speak Spanish as a first or second language.
1. Finally, Mandarin with its near billion native speakers surely dwarfs the size of any other language. However, as with many of these large languages, a wide variety of dialects exist. Its use is mainly centred in countries such as first and foremost China, but also Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia.
By Oscar Larsson
Communication Trainee at TermCoord
Student at Glasgow of University