How Many Spoken Languages Are There In The World

A language, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, is categorized as a communication system that people use in a particular country. The languages tell us that each continent is an individual and complex universe of different communication systems and forms.

However, from the point of view of communication systems more generally, languages are remarkably similar to one another. With 195 countries around the world, the total number of languages spoken is quite impressive. Worldwide, more than 6,900 languages are spoken, most of which speak only a small number. 

Many of the most famous languages are centuries old and are only kept alive by a handful of speakers. Papua New Guinea is home to most of the world’s languages. It is more than twice as many languages spoken throughout the European continent. It is a small Oceanian country with about 3.9 million inhabitants, where an impressive number of over 830 different languages can be found.

In all these ways, human language is so different from any other known system in the natural world that the narrowly constrained ways in which one grammar can differ from another fade into insignificance. Similarly, the differences we find across the world in grammars seem very important, but for an outside observer–say, a biologist studying communication among living beings in general–all are relatively minor variations on the single theme of human language.

Human language differs from the communicative behavior of every other known organism in several fundamental ways, all shared across languages.

Many factors, such as the spread of ancient civilizations, terrain, and cultural history, determine the number of languages spoken in a given region. 7,099 languages are spoken worldwide, and new world languages are emerging every day. The Asian continent has the largest share of spoken languages at 32%. 

Other languages spoken worldwide are Persian, German, Russian, Malaysian, and Portuguese. The meaning of these languages can be classified by checking how many countries they are spoken in. The following languages are listed in Ethnologue 2019, a language reference book of SIL International published by SIL International, with over 10 million first-time speakers, in the 2019 edition. 

These data come from the 22nd edition of Ethnologue, a database describing the majority of the world’s population and in detail the 7,111 languages that exist today. The first eleven languages are additional numbers from the 2010 edition of the Swedish National Encyclopedia. 

For measuring, the researchers used ISO 693-3, a set of criteria that takes into account related varieties and dialects, to ensure that linguistics is not the only factor taken into account when calculating languages. Before we talk about the total number of languages, it is important to take a look at the ten most popular languages in the world. When we talk about prominent languages, we must make this clear when we refer to languages with the most native speakers, speakers in general, and their native languages. 

By 2022, the language with the most native speakers will have the most speakers in the world, with 11.3 billion native speakers and non-native speakers. It should come as no surprise that languages spoken in smaller areas appear in this list of the most widely spoken languages in the world. The most surprising inclusion is Russian, the second most widely spoken language in the world, if we consider Russian to be territorial enlargement. 

Much of the pioneering work in documenting languages around the world has been done by missionaries such as the Summer Institute of Linguistics, also known as SIL, which has an international interest in translating the Christian Bible. In 2009, at least part of the Bible was translated into 2,508 different languages, which is far from complete coverage. This is not due to an increase in the number of languages, but rather to our growing understanding that many of the languages spoken in these areas are under-described. 

Language Extinction 

With each day and month, fewer and fewer languages are born. It is a fact that when languages are no longer learned, they no longer survive and die out with the death of their native speakers. Roughly a quarter of the world’s languages generally have less than a few thousand remaining speakers and some estimates suggest that within the next century half of the world’s languages will be threatened or on the brink of extinction. 

Around a quarter of the world, languages have fewer than a thousand remaining speakers, and linguists generally agree in estimating that the extinction within the next century of at least 3,000 of the 6,909 languages listed by Ethnologue, or nearly half, is virtually guaranteed under present circumstances. Around a quarter of the world’s languages have less than a few thousand remaining speakers, and there is a general estimate that within the next century, nearly half of the 7102 languages spoken in the world will be endangered or on the verge of extinction. The threat of extinction thus affects a vastly greater proportion of the world’s languages than its biological species.

The death of a language is not simply the loss of a spoken language; it is also the death of the culture, traditions, norms, and customs of a community or a tribe. The degree of diversity is something we have already discussed, and although there are problems with quantification, one thing is certain: a surprising proportion of the world’s languages will disappear before we can speak. Where there is diversity, it is declining, as local forms of speech are dying out due to the advance of major languages and world civilizations. 

Once we go beyond the major languages of economic and political power, such as English, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, and a few more with millions of speakers each, everywhere we look in the world we find a vast number of others, belonging to many genetically distinct families. Whatever the world’s linguistic diversity at the present, it is steadily declining, as local forms of speech increasingly become moribund before the advance of the major languages of world civilization. In such cases, population groups may decide to abandon their language entirely and exclusively teach their children the majority language to ensure their social integration.

The Spread of Languages

How we measure the spread of the languages of the world depends on whether you look at the speakers total or native speakers. Today’s detailed visualization of Word Tip demonstrates 100 of the world’s most spoken languages, the number of native speakers, their linguistic origin, and the tree of language branches. 

An example of such a language is Pemon, a Caribbean Indian language spoken by about 24,000 people in Spanish, Portuguese, and parts of Venezuela, Brazil, and Guyana. Chukchi, an ancient Siberian language used in northeastern Russia, has more than 5,000 native speakers. 

Mandarin is not a language at all, but a series of dialects of the Chinese language. There is nothing that unites the dialects under one name so that their speakers can understand each other. 

The role of the language with the most native speakers, English, is now the most spoken language in the world. This means that it is the language we use to talk to people when we can not communicate in any other language. 

The English language belongs to the West Germanic language family and is represented as an official language on six of the seven continents, with 64% of native speakers being Americans. While Hindi itself – which considers itself to be the most influential language in the world – is half full because of the large number of people who speak it as a second, third, or fourth language. Hindi is mainly spoken in India and Nepal, and as part of his family, more than 100 million other people speak languages related to him. Learning Hindi can be a formidable challenge not just because of its writing system but also because the people who speak it often prefer to talk with foreigners in English, which is also an official language in India.

For people whose mother tongue is English, Spanish is one of the easiest languages to learn because of its familiar writing system, pronunciation, and, to some extent, grammar. What counts as a language rather than a “mere” dialect typically involves issues of statehood, economics, literary traditions, and writing systems, and other trappings of power, authority, and culture — with purely linguistic considerations playing a less significant role.

The Growth of Afrikaans Language

Afrikaans and Dutch languages are similar with the former having its origins from the latter. About 72 million people speak Afrikaans and Dutch around the world. The majority of speakers are located in South Africa. As the South African diaspora continues to expand, the Afrikaans language is also spreading to other continents. It can be heard in major cities of the world. Afrikaans popular music bands and movies have helped in the spread of the language to other nations. 

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In retrospect, the discussion above proves that English is the major language that is used across the world. If you are reading this article, it means that you are at least proficient in English, the most widely spoken language on the planet. You probably know that English is the language of science and technology, and you encounter it every day.