Ranked: The 100 Most Spoken Languages Worldwide
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Ranked: The 100 Most Spoken Languages Around the World

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100 Most Spoken Languages

Ranked: The 100 Most Spoken Languages Worldwide

Even though you’re reading this article in English, there’s a good chance it might not be your mother tongue. Of the billion-strong English speakers in the world, only 33% consider it their native language.

The popularity of a language depends greatly on utility and geographic location. Additionally, how we measure the spread of world languages can vary greatly depending on whether you look at total speakers or native speakers.

Today’s detailed visualization from WordTips illustrates the 100 most spoken languages in the world, the number of native speakers for each language, and the origin tree that each language has branched out from.

How Do You Define A Language?

The data comes from the 22nd edition of Ethnologue, a database covering a majority of the world’s population, detailing approximately 7,111 living languages in existence today.

The definitions of languages are often dynamic, blurring the lines around a singular understanding of what makes a language:

  • Linguistic: focused on lexical and grammatical differences, or on variations within speech communities
  • Social: focused on cultural or political factors, as well as heritage and identity

For the purposes of measurement, the researchers use the ISO 693-3 set of criteria, which accounts for related varieties and dialects—ensuring that linguistics are not the only factor considered in this count of languages.

Here are the language origins of the 100 most spoken languages:

The-100-Most-Spoken-Languages-in-the-World_Supplemental

Indo-European languages have the widest spread worldwide. According to Ethnologue, the language family contains over 3 billion speakers in total. Interestingly, there are actually 1,526 Niger-Congo languages altogether, though only 12 are represented here.

Let’s now dive into the top 10 most spoken languages overall.

Which Languages Have the Most Speakers?

It comes as no surprise that English reigns supreme, with over 1.1 billion total speakers—or roughly 15% of the global population. Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, Spanish, and French round out the top five.

RankLanguageTotal SpeakersLanguage Origin
1English1,132 millionIndo-European
2Mandarin Chinese1,117 millionSino-Tibetan
3Hindi615 millionIndo-European
4Spanish534 millionIndo-European
5French280 millionIndo-European
6Standard Arabic274 millionAfro-Asiatic
7Bengali265 millionIndo-European
8Russian258 millionIndo-European
9Portuguese234 millionIndo-European
10Indonesian199 millionAustronesian

However, this is only one piece in the full fabric of languages.

The metrics for native speakers tell a slightly different tale, as Mandarin Chinese shoots up to 918 million—almost 2.5x that of English native speakers.

RankLanguageNative SpeakersLanguage Origin
1Mandarin Chinese918 millionSino-Tibetan
2Spanish460 millionIndo-European
3English379 millionIndo-European
4Hindi341 millionIndo-European
5Bengali228 millionIndo-European
6Portuguese221 millionIndo-European
7Russian154 millionIndo-European
8Japanese128 millionJapanic
9Western Punjabi93 millionIndo-European
10Marathi83 millionIndo-European

Note: No native speaker data was available for Filipino, Standard Arabic, Nigerian Pidgin, or Cameroonian Pidgin.

Here, Spanish comes in strong second for native speakers with 460 million, considering it’s well-used across Latin America. The Indian languages of Hindi and Bengali cap off the top five by native speakers as well.

These are the biggest languages people learn growing up, but what about the ones they pick up later in life?

What About Second (L2) Languages?

Nearly 43% of the world’s population is bilingual, with the ability to switch between two languages with ease.

From the data, second language (L2) speakers can be calculated by looking at the difference between native and total speakers, as a proportion of the total. For example, 66% of English speakers learned it as a second language.

Swahili surprisingly has the highest ratio of L2 speakers to total speakers—although it only has 16 million native speakers, this shoots up to 98 million total speakers. Overall, 82% of Swahili speakers know it as a second language.

Swahili is listed as a national or official language in several African countries: Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It’s likely that the movement of people from rural areas into big cities in search of better economic opportunities, is what’s boosting the adoption of Swahili as a second language.

Indonesian is another similar example. With a 78% proportion of L2 speakers compared to total speakers, this variation on the Malay language has been used as the lingua franca across the islands for a long time. In contrast, only 17% of Mandarin speakers know it as a second language, perhaps because it is one of the most challenging languages to learn.

Keeping Language Traditions Alive

Languages are fluid, and constantly evolving—altogether, the 100 most spoken languages paint a unique picture across centuries of a changing world. Here’s the full list of these languages, by types of speakers and language origin.

RankLanguageTotal SpeakersNative SpeakersOrigin
1English1,132M379MIndo-European
2Mandarin Chinese1,117M918MSino-Tibetan
3Hindi615M341MIndo-European
4Spanish534M460MIndo-European
5French280M77MIndo-European
6Standard Arabic274MNAAfro-Asiatic
7Bengali265M228MIndo-European
8Russian258M154MIndo-European
9Portuguese234M221MIndo-European
10Indonesian199M43MAustronesian
11Urdu170M69MIndo-European
12Standard German132M76MIndo-European
13Japanese128M128MJapanic
14Swahili98M16MNiger-Congo
15Marathi95M83MIndo-European
16Telugu93M82MDravidian
17Western Punjabi93M93MIndo-European
18Wu Chinese82M81MSino-Tibetan
19Tamil81M75MDravidian
20Turkish80M69MTurkic
21Korean77M77MKoreanic
22Vietnamese77M76MAustronesian
23Yue Chinese74M73MSino-Tibetan
24Javanese68M68MAustronesian
25Italian68M65MIndo-European
26Egyptian Spoken Arabic65M65MAfro-Asiatic
27Hausa63M44MAfro-Asiatic
28Thai61M21MKra-Dai
29Gujarati61M56MIndo-European
30Kannada56M44MDravidian
31Iranian Persian53M53MIndo-European
32Bhojpuri52M52MIndo-European
33Southern Min Chinese50M50MSino-Tibetan
34Hakka Chinese48M48MSino-Tibetan
35Jinyu Chinese47M47MSino-Tibetan
36Filipino45MNAAustronesian
37Burmese43M33MSino-Tibetan
38Polish40M40MIndo-European
39Yoruba40M38MNiger-Congo
40Odia38M34MIndo-European
41Malayalam38M37MDravidian
42Xiang Chinese37M37MSino-Tibetan
43Maithili34M34MIndo-European
44Ukrainian33M27MIndo-European
45Moroccan Spoken Arabic33M27MAfro-Asiatic
46Eastern Punjabi33M33MIndo-European
47Sunda32M32MAustronesian
48Algerian Spoken Arabic32M29MAfro-Asiatic
49Sudanese Spoken Arabic32M32MAfro-Asiatic
50Nigerian Pidgin30MNAIndo-European
51Zulu28M12MNiger-Congo
52Igbo27M27MNiger-Congo
53Amharic26M22MAfro-Asiatic
54Northern Uzbek25M25MTurkic
55Sindhi25M25MIndo-European
56North Levantine Spoken Arabic25M25MAfro-Asiatic
57Nepali25M16MIndo-European
58Romanian24M24MIndo-European
59Tagalog24M24MAustronesian
60Dutch23M23MIndo-European
61Sa'idi Spoken Arabic22M22MAfro-Asiatic
62Gan Chinese22M22MSino-Tibetan
63Northern Pashto21M21MIndo-European
64Magahi21M21MIndo-European
65Saraiki20M20MIndo-European
66Xhosa19M8MNiger-Congo
67Malay19M16MAustronesian
68Khmer18M17MAustronesian
69Afrikaans18M7MIndo-European
70Sinhala17M15MIndo-European
71Somali16M16MAfro-Asiatic
72Chhattisgarhi16M16MIndo-European
73Cebuano16M16MAustronesian
74Mesopotamian Spoken Arabic16M16MAfro-Asiatic
75Assamese15M15MIndo-European
76Northeastern Thai15M15MKra-Dai
77Northern Kurdish15M15MIndo-European
78Hijazi Spoken Arabic15M15MAfro-Asiatic
79Nigerian Fulfulde14M14MNiger-Congo
80Bavarian14M14MIndo-European
81Bamanankan14M4MNiger-Congo
82South Azerbaijani14M14MTurkic
83Northern Sotho14M5MNiger-Congo
84Setswana14M6MNiger-Congo
85Souther Sotho14M6MNiger-Congo
86Czech13M11MIndo-European
87Greek13M13MIndo-European
88Chittagonian13M13MIndo-European
89Kazakh13M13MTurkic
90Swedish13M10MIndo-European
91Deccan13M13MIndo-European
92Hungarian13M13MUralic
93Jula12M2MNiger-Congo
94Sadri12M5MIndo-European
95Kinyarwanda12M12MNiger-Congo
96Cameroonian Pidgin12MNAIndo-European
97Sylheti12M10MIndo-European
98South Levantine Spoken Arabic12M12MAfro-Asiatic
99Tunisian Spoken Arabic12M12MAfro-Asiatic
100Sanaani Spoken Arabic11M11MAfro-Asiatic

One reason these languages are popular is that they are actively and consistently used. Unfortunately, nearly 3,000 (about 40%) of all languages are at risk of being lost, or are already in the process of dying out today.

Languages play a crucial role in our daily lives. … [Their] losses have huge negative impacts indigenous peoples’ most basic human rights.

—UN, IYoIL statement

As a result, the United Nations declared 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages (IYoIL), with a resolution to continue fostering these languages and pass on their knowledge for future generations.

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Which Countries Have the Most Similar Values?

Where you’re from greatly influencers how you view the world. Here’s a look at the core values in 94 different countries.

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Country Values

Which Countries Value the Same Things?

Our culture can have significant impacts on our belief systems and our values.

In fact, research has shown that our cultural influences can rewire our brains, which can impact our visual perceptions and how we view the world around us.

Because of this, where we’re from can greatly influence what we prioritize in life. This graphic by Anders Sundell illustrates the primary values of 94 different countries, and highlights which places share similar values.

Methodology

Sundell used data from the World Values Survey, an international survey that interviews hundreds of thousands of participants from across the globe.

For the purposes of this graphic, Sundell focused on one specific section of the survey that asked respondents to rate various aspects of their life on a scale of one (very important) to four (not important at all). Six aspects were included: family, friends, leisure time, politics, work, and religion.

From there, Sundell calculated the median score for each country and identified their primary value, then grouped them based on their similarities. On this netgraph, each country is connected to three other countries that share the most similar values.

Generally speaking, countries that prioritize friends and leisure are concentrated on the far left of the graphic, whereas countries that value religion and work fall more to the right.

Each Country’s Primary Values

Interestingly, family came first for all 94 countries—except Indonesia, where religion was considered most important.

Because of this, Sundell identified each country’s primary value besides family, which was much more diverse across the board:

Abbr.CountryContinentPrimary Value (Exc. Family)
AL🇦🇱 AlbaniaEuropeWork
AD🇦🇩 AndorraEuropeLeisure
AR🇦🇷 ArgentinaSouth AmericaWork
AM🇦🇲 ArmeniaAsiaWork
AU🇦🇺 AustraliaOceaniaFriends
AT🇦🇹 AustriaEuropeFriends
AZ🇦🇿 AzerbaijanAsiaWork
BD🇧🇩 BangladeshAsiaReligion
BY🇧🇾 BelarusEuropeWork
BO🇧🇴 BoliviaSouth AmericaWork
BA🇧🇦 Bosnia and HerzegovinaEuropeWork
BR🇧🇷 BrazilSouth AmericaWork
BG🇧🇬 BulgariaEuropeWork
CA🇨🇦 CanadaNorth AmericaLeisure
CL🇨🇱 ChileSouth AmericaLeisure
CN🇨🇳 ChinaAsiaWork
CO🇨🇴 ColombiaSouth AmericaWork
HR🇭🇷 CroatiaEuropeWork
CY🇨🇾 CyprusEuropeFriends
CZ🇨🇿 Czech RepublicEuropeFriends
DK🇩🇰 DenmarkEuropeFriends
EC🇪🇨 EcuadorSouth AmericaWork
EG🇪🇬 EgyptAfricaReligion
EE🇪🇪 EstoniaEuropeFriends
ET🇪🇹 EthiopiaAfricaReligion
FI🇫🇮 FinlandEuropeLeisure
FR🇫🇷 FranceEuropeWork
GE🇬🇪 GeorgiaAsiaWork
DE🇩🇪 GermanyEuropeFriends
GH🇬🇭 GhanaAfricaWork
GR🇬🇷 GreeceEuropeWork
GT🇬🇹 GuatemalaNorth AmericaWork
HT🇭🇹 HaitiNorth AmericaWork
HK🇭🇰 Hong KongAsiaFriends
HU🇭🇺 HungaryEuropeFriends
IS🇮🇸 IcelandEuropeFriends
IN🇮🇳 IndiaAsiaWork
ID🇮🇩 IndonesiaAsiaReligion
IR🇮🇷 IranAsiaWork
IQ🇮🇶 IraqAsiaReligion
IT🇮🇹 ItalyEuropeWork
JP🇯🇵 JapanAsiaLeisure
JO🇯🇴 JordanAsiaReligion
KZ🇰🇿 KazakhstanAsiaWork
KW🇰🇼 KuwaitAsiaReligion
KG🇰🇬 KyrgyzstanAsiaFriends
LB🇱🇧 LebanonAsiaWork
LY🇱🇾 LibyaAfricaReligion
LT🇱🇹 LithuaniaEuropeWork
MO🇲🇴 MacaoAsiaFriends
MY🇲🇾 MalaysiaAsiaReligion
MX🇲🇽 MexicoNorth AmericaWork
ME🇲🇪 MontenegroEuropeWork
MA🇲🇦 MoroccoAfricaReligion
MM🇲🇲 MyanmarAsiaReligion
NL🇳🇱 NetherlandsEuropeFriends
NZ🇳🇿 New ZealandOceaniaFriends
NI🇳🇮 NicaraguaNorth AmericaWork
NG🇳🇬 NigeriaAfricaReligion
MK🇲🇰 North MacedoniaEuropeWork
NO🇳🇴 NorwayEuropeFriends
PK🇵🇰 PakistanEuropeReligion
PE🇵🇪 PeruSouth AmericaWork
PH🇵🇭 PhilippinesAsiaWork
PL🇵🇱 PolandEuropeWork
PT🇵🇹 PortugalEuropeWork
PR🇵🇷 Puerto RicoNorth AmericaWork
QA🇶🇦 QatarAsiaReligion
RO🇷🇴 RomaniaEuropeWork
RU🇷🇺 RussiaAsiaFriends
RW🇷🇼 RwandaAfricaFriends
RS🇷🇸 SerbiaEuropeFriends
SG🇸🇬 SingaporeAsiaFriends
SK🇸🇰 SlovakiaEuropeWork
SI🇸🇮 SloveniaEuropeWork
ZA🇿🇦 South AfricaAfricaWork
KR🇰🇷 South KoreaAsiaFriends
ES🇪🇸 SpainEuropeWork
SE🇸🇪 SwedenEuropeFriends
CH🇨🇭 SwitzerlandEuropeFriends
TW🇹🇼 TaiwanAsiaWork
TJ🇹🇯 TajikistanAsiaReligion
TH🇹🇭 ThailandAsiaWork
TT🇹🇹 Trinidad and TobagoSouth AmericaReligion
TN🇹🇳 TunisiaAfricaReligion
TR🇹🇷 TurkeyAsiaFriends
UA🇺🇦 UkraineEuropeWork
GB🇬🇧 United KingdomEuropeFriends
US🇺🇸 United StatesNorth AmericaFriends
UY🇺🇾 UruguaySouth AmericaWork
UZ🇺🇿 UzbekistanAsiaWork
VN🇻🇳 VietnamAsiaWork
YE🇾🇪 YemenAsiaReligion
ZW🇿🇼 ZimbabweAfricaWork

After family, work was the most valued, with 46 different countries identifying it as their second-highest priority. Friends came second, followed by religion, and then lastly, leisure.

Work

Almost half of the countries on the list perceive work as the most important aspect of their lives, apart from family.

South American countries, in particular, put an emphasis on work, with seven of nine South American countries valuing work over friends and politics. The only outliers on the continent were Chile (leisure), and Trinidad and Tobago (religion).

Friends

Friends were identified as a top priority in 25 of the 94 countries on the list. Europe in particular valued friendship, especially in Norway and Sweden.

While these Nordic countries prioritize their existing friendships, research shows that they aren’t generally keen on making new ones. A global survey found that expats in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark found it extremely difficult to make new friends.

Religion

18 of the 94 countries ranked religion as a top value.

These countries, mainly in Asia and Africa, are predominantly Islamic except for a few. For instance, in Trinidad and Tobago, the largest religious group is Christianity.

Leisure

Only five countries on the list ranked leisure as a top priority—Japan, Canada, Andorra, Chile, and Finland. Finland takes leisure seriously. Its capital, Helsinki, was recognized as the number one city in the world for work-life balance. And Canada’s capital, Ottawa, ranked sixth on the ranking.

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24 Cognitive Biases That Are Warping Your Perception of Reality

The world isn’t as it seems—here are some of the most important cognitive biases that are messing with how you think the world works, and why.

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We are each entitled to our own personal world view.

But unfortunately, when it comes to interpreting information and trying to make objective sense of reality, human brains are hard-wired to make all kinds of mental mistakes that can impact our ability to make rational judgments.

In total, there are over 180 cognitive biases that interfere with how we process data, think critically, and perceive reality.

Flawed Human Reasoning

There is no simple way to get around these basic human instincts, but one thing that we can do is understand the specific mistakes we make and why.

Today’s infographic comes to us from School of Thought, a non-profit dedicated to spreading critical thinking. The graphic describes 24 of the key biases that warp our sense of reality, providing useful examples along the way.

24 Cognitive Biases That Are Warping Your Perception of Reality

At the beginning of the infographic, you may have noticed illustrations of two gentlemen.

In case you were wondering, those happen to represent Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, two of the leading social scientists known for their contributions to this field. Not only did they pioneer work around cognitive biases starting in the late 1960s, but their partnership also resulted in a Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002.

Biases Distorting Reality

Here are some of the biases we found most interesting from the list:

Declinism:
You remember the past as better than it was, and expect the future to be worse than it is likely to be. This is an interesting one, since statistically this is one of the most peaceful and prosperous times in history—yet the 24-hour news cycle rarely reflects this. (For a good example how the world is improving, see these six charts)

Just World Hypothesis:
Your preference for a just world makes you presume that it exists. Of course, it’s much more uncomfortable to think that the world is unfair, but by understanding this you will make more accurate judgments about people and situations.

Belief Bias
If a conclusion supports your existing beliefs, you’ll rationalize anything that supports it. In other words, instead of willingly looking at new information, we are primed to defend our own ideas without actually questioning them.

Framing Effect:
Context and delivery can have a big impact on how a story is interpreted. We must have the humility to recognize that we can be manipulated, and work to limit the effect that framing has on our critical thinking.

The Curse of Knowledge
Ever try to explain something you know intricately and have worked on for many years? It’s hard, because you’ve internalized everything you’ve learned, and now you forget how to explain it. This bias is similar—you know something inside and out, and what is obvious to you is not to others.

Reactance:
Sometimes we all get the urge to do the opposite of what we’re told. Nobody likes being constrained. The only problem is that when we’re in this situation, there is a tendency to overreact and to throw any logic out of the window.

Spotlight Effect:
Because we each live inside our own heads, our natural focus is on what we’re thinking and doing. We project this onto others, and we overestimate how much they notice about how we look or how we act.

Want to see more on cognitive biases? Here are 188 of them in one infographic.

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