List of languages by total number of speakers - Wikipedia

List of languages by total number of speakers

This is a list of languages by the total number of speakers.

It is difficult to define what constitutes a language as opposed to a dialect. Some languages, such as Chinese and Arabic, cover several mutually unintelligible varieties and are sometimes considered single languages and sometimes language families. Conversely, colloquial registers of Hindi and Urdu are almost completely mutually intelligible, and are sometimes classified as one language, Hindustani, instead of two separate languages. Such rankings should be used with caution, because it is not possible to devise a coherent set of linguistic criteria for distinguishing languages in a dialect continuum.[1]

There is no single criterion for how much knowledge is sufficient to be counted as a second-language speaker. For example, English has about 400 million native speakers but, depending on the criterion chosen, can be said to have as many as 2 billion speakers.[2]

There are also difficulties in obtaining reliable counts of speakers, which vary over time because of population change and language shift. In some areas, there is no reliable census data, the data is not current, or the census may not record languages spoken, or record them ambiguously. Sometimes speaker populations are exaggerated for political reasons, or speakers of minority languages may be under-reported in favour of a national language.[3]

Top languages by populationEdit

Ethnologue (2021, 24th edition)Edit

The following languages are listed as having 40 million or more total speakers in the 2021 edition of Ethnologue.[4] Entries identified by Ethnologue as macrolanguages are not included in this section.

Rank Language Family Branch No. of
First language (L1) speakers
No. of
Second language (L2) speakers
Total
No. of
speakers
1 English Indo-European Germanic 369.9 million 978.2 million[5] 1.348 billion
2 Mandarin Chinese
(incl. Standard Chinese)
Sino-Tibetan Sinitic 921.2 million 198.7 million[6] 1.120 billion
3 Hindi Indo-European Indo-Aryan 342.2 million 258.3 million[7] 600 million
4 Spanish Indo-European Romance 471.4 million 71.5 million[8] 543 million
5 Standard Arabic Afro-Asiatic Semitic [9] 274 million
6 Bengali Indo-European Indo-Aryan 228.7 million 39.0 million[10] 268 million
7 French Indo-European Romance 79.6 million 187.4 million[11] 267 million
8 Russian Indo-European Slavic 153.7 million 104.3 million[12] 258 million
9 Portuguese Indo-European Romance 232.4 million 25.2 million[13] 258 million
10 Urdu Indo-European Indo-Aryan 69.0 million 161.0 million[14] 230 million
11 Indonesian Austronesian Malayo-Polynesian 43.6 million 155.4 million[15] 199 million
12 Standard German Indo-European Germanic 76.6 million 58.5 million[16] 135 million
13 Japanese Japonic 126.3 million 121,500[17] 126 million
14 Marathi Indo-European Indo-Aryan 83.1 million 16.0 million[18] 99 million
15 Telugu Dravidian South-Central 82.6 million 13.0 million[19] 96 million
16 Turkish Turkic Oghuz 82.2 million 5.9 million[20] 88 million
17 Tamil Dravidian Southern 77.5 million 8.0 million[21] 85 million
18 Yue Chinese

(incl. Cantonese)

Sino-Tibetan Sinitic 84.9 million 402,000[22] 85 million
19 Wu Chinese

(incl. Shanghainese)

Sino-Tibetan Sinitic 81.7 million 63,000[23] 82 million
20 Korean Koreanic [24] 82 million
21 Vietnamese Austroasiatic Vietic 76.1 million 745,000[25] 77 million
22 Hausa Afro-Asiatic Chadic 48.6 million 26.3 million[26] 75 million
23 Iranian Persian Indo-European Iranian 56.3 million 17.9 million[27] 74 million
24 Egyptian Spoken Arabic Afro-Asiatic Semitic [28] 70 million
25 Swahili Niger–Congo Bantu 16.3 million 52.9 million[29] 69 million
26 Javanese Austronesian Malayo-Polynesian [30] 68 million
27 Italian Indo-European Romance 64.8 million 3.1 million[31] 68 million
28 Western Punjabi

(Lahnda)

Indo-European Indo-Aryan [32] 65 million
29 Gujarati Indo-European Indo-Aryan 56.9 million 5.0 million[33] 62 million
30 Thai Kra–Dai Zhuang–Tai 20.7 million 40.0 million[34] 61 million
31 Kannada Dravidian Southern 43.6 million 15.0 million[35] 59 million
32 Amharic Afroasiatic Semitic 32.3 million 25.1 million[36] 57 million
33 Bhojpuri Indo-European Indo-Aryan 52.3 million 160,000[37] 52 million
34 Eastern Punjabi Indo-European Indo-Aryan 48.6 million 3.6 million[38] 52 million
35 Min Nan Chinese

(incl. Hokkien)

Sino-Tibetan Sinitic 48.4 million 387,000[39] 49 million
36 Nigerian Pidgin English Creole [40] 48 million
37 Jin Chinese Sino-Tibetan Sinitic [41] 47 million
38 Filipino Austronesian Malayo-Polynesian [a] 45.0 million[43] 45 million
39 Hakka Chinese Sino-Tibetan Sinitic [44] 44 million
40 Yoruba Niger–Congo Atlantic–Congo [45] 43 million
41 Burmese Sino-Tibetan Tibeto-Burman [46] 43 million
42 Sudanese Spoken Arabic Afro-Asiatic Semitic [47] 42 million
43 Polish Indo-European Balto-Slavic [48] 41 million
44 Odia Indo-European Indo-Aryan [49] 40 million

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Filipino is the standardized form of Tagalog, which is the native language of 24 million people.[42] If Tagalog is included within the figure for Filipino, there are 69 million speakers of Filipino and Filipino becomes the 26th most spoken language.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Paolillo, John C.; Das, Anupam (31 March 2006). "Evaluating language statistics: the Ethnologue and beyond" (PDF). UNESCO Institute of Statistics. pp. 3–5. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  2. ^ Crystal, David (March 2008). "Two thousand million?". English Today. 24: 3–6. doi:10.1017/S0266078408000023.
  3. ^ Crystal, David (1988). The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language. Cambridge University Press. pp. 286–287. ISBN 978-0-521-26438-9.
  4. ^ "What are the top 200 most spoken languages?". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2021-02-26.
  5. ^ English at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  6. ^ Chinese, Mandarin at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  7. ^ Hindi at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  8. ^ Spanish at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  9. ^ List of languages by total number of speakers at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  10. ^ Bengali at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  11. ^ French at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  12. ^ Russian at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  13. ^ Portuguese at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  14. ^ Urdu at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  15. ^ Indonesian at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  16. ^ German, Standard at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  17. ^ Japanese at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  18. ^ Marathi at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  19. ^ Telugu at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  20. ^ Turkish at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  21. ^ Tamil at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  22. ^ Chinese, Yue at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  23. ^ Chinese, Wu at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  24. ^ List of languages by total number of speakers at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  25. ^ Vietnamese at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  26. ^ Hausa at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  27. ^ Persian, Iranian at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  28. ^ List of languages by total number of speakers at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  29. ^ Swahili at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  30. ^ List of languages by total number of speakers at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  31. ^ Italian at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  32. ^ "Punjabi, Western". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2021-04-10.
  33. ^ Gujarati at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  34. ^ Thai at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  35. ^ Kannada at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  36. ^ List of languages by total number of speakers at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  37. ^ Bhojpuri at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  38. ^ List of languages by total number of speakers at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  39. ^ Chinese, Min Nan at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  40. ^ List of languages by total number of speakers at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  41. ^ List of languages by total number of speakers at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  42. ^ Tagalog at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  43. ^ Filipino at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  44. ^ Hakka Chinese at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  45. ^ Yoruba at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  46. ^ Burmese at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  47. ^ Sudanese Spoken Arabic at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  48. ^ Polish at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)
  49. ^ Odia at Ethnologue (24th ed., 2021)

External linksEdit