The 10 Most Spoken Languages In The World (2023)

At the heart of human self-expression is the language that each person grows up with, as well as the languages one encounters over time in this world. Billions of people have grown comfortable with the ability to communicate with countless peers, which is only a feat made possible through widespread education and agreement on linguistic rules. The existence of dialects in each language proves that standardization is an impossible goal. However, it is remarkable that the following ten languages manage to be mutually intelligible across continents and long stretches of history. This stability is a fleeting occurrence in human history, so for the time being, brush up on our planet's most popular languages.

1. English – 1.5 Billion Speakers

The 10 Most Spoken Languages In The World (1)

A few factors explain why English is one of the most common global languages used for business and academics worldwide. Simple grammar structures, specifically conjugation and gender, allow new speakers the opportunity to pick it up rapidly. For eastern countries, its status as not only widely used but neutral enables political neighbors to converse without feeling one region takes precedence over the other. Moreover, English was aided in its spread by the British colonization of the last several hundred years. Only a few differences exist between American English and British English, but speakers of each dialect pick a favorite and adamantly defend that choice.

Read MoreFormer British Colonies

2. Mandarin Chinese – 1.1 Billion Speakers

The 10 Most Spoken Languages In The World (2)

A massive country with a wealth of historical roots, mainland China harbors between 7 and 10 language groups, and the most dominant is called Mandarin. Eighty percent of the population uses this variant, which has been adopted into both English and Chinese alphabets. If you examine a typical Chinese keyboard, each key has an abundance of symbols that allow typists to access the alphabet they desire. Mandarin originated primarily in North China during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), and due to the difficulty, it is suggested that children begin learning the language at a young age to acquire a native accent. Over 50 thousand characters exist in the alphabet, but less than half are typically used, and barely 3 thousand are essential to read most media.

(Video) The 10 Most Widely Spoken Languages in the World

Read MoreWhat Languages Are Spoken In China?

3. Hindi – 602 Million Speakers

The 10 Most Spoken Languages In The World (3)

The primary language of India, Hindi originates from the ancient language of Sanskrit, and similarities between the typography are obvious. One hundred twenty-one languages can be found in the populated country of India, but more than half of the population can speak Hindi. Other influences on the language, over time, have included Persian, Arabic, Turkish, and even Portuguese and English. Therefore, it is considered an Indo-European language. The name comes from Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi, an Indian writer from the late 19th century, and the writer Bharatendu Harishchandra also played an integral part in the systemization of the language. These two educated and talented men understood that an accessible language would aid communication and empower citizens of all demographics in India.

Read MoreThe 6 Classical Languages Of India

4. Spanish – 548 Million Speakers

The 10 Most Spoken Languages In The World (4)

Another colonizing force, Spain's influence on the globe carried with it the impact of their native language. Over 360 million people use it as a first language, and many countries throughout the Caribbean and Americas consider it their official language, such as Mexico and Costa Rica. It is also spoken in Africa. Several variants exist, with some dialects taking heavy influence from medieval occupiers who spoke Arabic, and Latin American Spanish has a handful of differences from Spain's Castilian Spanish. The language is derived from Vulgar Latin, alongside French and Italian, so it is typical for a speaker of one to readily acquire the other two.

(Video) The Most Spoken Languages in the World

Read MoreThe Former Spanish Colonies

5. French – 274.1 Million Speakers

The 10 Most Spoken Languages In The World (5)

Known as the language of love by some and the language of tongue-twisters by others, French is a product of the merging of Latin and Celtic languages. The first texts written in a recognizable French script appeared around 842, although like English, it took many evolutions to inherit the form it has today. For instance, the word 'forest' in English has kept the /s/ and /t/ consonants, whereas the translated sister word 'forêt' in French is pronounced like the English word 'foray.' This transition of pronunciation happened around the 14th century, where Old French was replaced with Middle French. Like any major language, especially ones that were globalized through colonization, attempts at standardization also slow the rate at which the language evolves into the unrecognizable territory.

Read MoreThe Former French Colonies

6. Arabic – 274 Million Speakers

The 10 Most Spoken Languages In The World (6)Old Arabic manuscripts and texts.

Over a thousand years ago, and particularly highlighted in the Quran, Arabic originated in the Arabian Peninsula, where various nomadic groups spoke it. The language has expanded across the world alongside Islamic conquests in the regions of North Africa and the Mediterranean. Arabic is a consonant-heavy language that trips up learners with a background solely in English, a more vowel-centric language. Often described as 'throaty' because of sounds that are produced in the back of the mouth, Arabic also utilizes a gorgeous albeit complicated alphabet. Words are formed from individual phonetic symbols that weave together as if written in cursive. Diacritic accents point to differences in pronunciation. There are many dialects of Arabic, but academic elites have toiled to preserve the religious Arabic format that is used in writing, as it is inspired by the Quran.

(Video) The 10 Most Widely Spoken Languages in the World

Read MoreArabic Speaking Countries

7. Bengali – 272 Million Speakers

The 10 Most Spoken Languages In The World (7)

Bangladesh and the West Bengal state in eastern India are the strongest bastions of this language which is also spoken in other countries where Bengalis have emigrated. The language is also Indo-European, like Hindi, with connections to Sanskrit. Interestingly, the language is gender-neutral, and it also harbors over 100 thousand unique words. The confusion begins when learners realize a very small mark can entirely change the meaning of a word, but patience is necessary for all new skills and languages.

8. Russian – 258 Million Speakers

The 10 Most Spoken Languages In The World (8)

Centuries of expansion and administration have bound the people of the Russian landmass together. This is no small feat considering the 6.6 million square miles that make up the country. The language itself is Slavic and shares similarities with Ukrainian, Belarusian, and even Polish. The intermingling and Russian army occupations that occurred in the last few centuries certainly solidified those bonds. The symbols of the language are from the Cyrillic alphabet, which is based on the Greek alphabet, hinting at a tie to the predominance of the Eastern Orthodox religion in Russia. Although it is one of the most difficult languages to learn, Russian has a quality and sound to it that make it truly unique whenever it is heard by foreign listeners.

9. Portuguese – 257.7 Million Speakers

The 10 Most Spoken Languages In The World (9)

A romance language spoken between Portugal and its former colony, Brazil, Portuguese is also heard in places throughout Spain and the Azores Islands. Moreover, large populations of speakers live in several countries in Africa as well as the United States. It is a poetic language that scholars and creatives settled on around 1200 AD, although a split happened between Portuguese and its Galician roots. There are some differences between the way Brazilian speakers use the language, both phonetically and grammatically, but overall, Portuguese is also considered similar enough to Spanish for two people of those backgrounds to be capable of having a conversation.

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10. Urdu – 231 Million Speakers

The 10 Most Spoken Languages In The World (10)

As an Indo-Aryan language, Urdu is primarily spoken in Pakistan and India. Large communities also exist in the United States, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. As the official language of Pakistan, Urdu was also heavily influenced by Turkish, Arabic, and Persian, despite the origins being in North India throughout the Delhi region over 900 years ago. Several English words have been borrowed from Urdu, such as Khaki, Pashmina, Pajamas, and Typhoon. A sophisticated and poetic language, it is no wonder that Urdu is one of the most spoken languages on the planet.

Each of these ten languages reveals something unique about the people that speak them. Historical and cultural values, through expression and proverbs, are typically shared over thousands of years in language. Speakers today are drawing from a wealth of knowledge and experience that extends far into the past. In a hundred years, given the ever-fluctuating nature of humankind, the top ten spoken languages of the world could be a very different collection. For now, we are grateful for how these languages have enriched the people and cultures within and around the speakers who have carried on the linguistic traditions.

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(Video) The 8 Most Spoken Languages In The World | Countdown

Cory Price December 22 2022 in Society

FAQs

What is the top 10 most spoken languages in the world 2022? ›

Statistics & Data reports that the top 10 most spoken languages in the world, in order, are: English. Mandarin Chinese. Hindi.

What is the No 1 language in the world? ›

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

What is the most spoken languages in the world 2022? ›

The top 5 most spoken languages in the world
  1. English. Unsurprisingly, English is the most widely spoken language in the world. ...
  2. Mandarin Chinese. Another extremely widely spoken language, Mandarin Chinese has 1,120 million speakers. ...
  3. Hindi. ...
  4. Spanish. ...
  5. Standard Arabic.
Feb 8, 2022

What language did Jesus speak? ›

Most religious scholars and historians agree with Pope Francis that the historical Jesus principally spoke a Galilean dialect of Aramaic. Through trade, invasions and conquest, the Aramaic language had spread far afield by the 7th century B.C., and would become the lingua franca in much of the Middle East.

What's the hardest language to learn? ›

Across multiple sources, Mandarin Chinese is the number one language listed as the most challenging to learn. The Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center puts Mandarin in Category IV, which is the list of the most difficult languages to learn for English speakers.

What are the top 3 easiest languages? ›

Read more about language courses here.
  • NORWEGIAN. Grammar, syntax and word order are all similar to English thanks to shared North Germanic roots. ...
  • SWEDISH. ...
  • DANISH. ...
  • SPANISH. ...
  • PORTUGUESE. ...
  • ITALIAN. ...
  • FRENCH. ...
  • ROMANIAN.
Feb 13, 2014

What are the 3 biggest languages? ›

These are the most spoken languages in the world
  • English – 1,121 million speakers.
  • Spanish – 512 million speakers.
  • French – 284 million speakers.
  • Portuguese – 234 million speakers.
Jun 4, 2022

What is the 3 most common language? ›

The 4 Most Common Languages Spoken Around the World
  1. English. While only about 360 million people are native English speakers, 1.5 billion people worldwide can speak English. ...
  2. Mandarin Chinese. Over 1.1 billion people speak Mandarin, but Chinese is not a single language. ...
  3. Hindustani. ...
  4. Spanish.
Jun 19, 2019

What is the number 1 easiest language? ›

Easiest (about 600 hours of study)

Of these, Spanish and Italian are the easiest for native English speakers to learn, followed by Portuguese and finally French.

Which is the 1 oldest language in the world? ›

1. Egyptian – 2690 BC (circa. 4700 years old)
  • The first known language ever was a proto-language on the African continent, and the first known proto-writing system was created in Nigeria.
  • So, it is perhaps no surprise that the oldest language on this list is also from and used in Africa – Egyptian.
Mar 2, 2022

Which language has the hardest grammar? ›

Hungarian grammar seems like the road to death for an English speaker. Because Hungarian grammar rules are the most difficult to learn, this language has 26 different cases. The suffixes dictate the tense and possession and not the word order. That's is how most of the European languages deal with this problem.

What is the fastest growing language? ›

You might not realize how widely spoken Arabic already is, with about 300 million native speakers. It's also been deemed the fastest growing language within the U.S. and even the fastest growing language on the internet. Why should Arabic's growth matter to you?

What is the newest language still spoken? ›

The world's youngest languages
  • Light Warlpiri. Spoken in Australia by 350 people, Light Warlpiri is one of the newest languages in the world. ...
  • Esperanto. Esperanto is spoken internationally by an estimated 30,000 to 180,000 users. ...
  • Lingala. Coming in as the most well-known language on the list is Lingala. ...
  • Gooniyandi.
Feb 28, 2022

What language did Adam and Eve speak? ›

The Adamic language, according to Jewish tradition (as recorded in the midrashim) and some Christians, is the language spoken by Adam (and possibly Eve) in the Garden of Eden.

What language does God speak? ›

Some Christians see the languages written on the INRI cross (Syriac, Greek and Latin) as God's languages.

How do you say God in Aramaic? ›

The Aramaic word for God is alôh-ô ( Syriac dialect) or elâhâ (Biblical dialect), which comes from the same Proto- Semitic word (*ʾilâh-) as the Arabic and Hebrew terms; Jesus is described in Mark 15:34 as having used the word on the cross, with the ending meaning "my", when saying, "My God, my God, why hast thou ...

What is the 3 hardest language? ›

Generally, if you're an English speaker with no exposure to other languages, here are some of the most challenging and difficult languages to learn: Mandarin Chinese. Arabic. Vietnamese.

What is the 2 hardest language to speak? ›

2. Arabic. Arabic is the queen of poetic languages, the 6th official language of the UN and second on our list of toughest languages to learn.

What is the 5 hardest language? ›

Let's explore the 10 hardest languages for English speakers to learn, and the challenges they deliver:
  1. Mandarin. Mandarin is spoken by 70% of the Chinese population, and is the most spoken language in the world. ...
  2. Arabic. ...
  3. Japanese. ...
  4. Hungarian. ...
  5. Korean. ...
  6. Finnish. ...
  7. Basque. ...
  8. Navajo.
Sep 16, 2022

What's the best language to learn? ›

The 7 Best Languages To Learn
  1. Spanish. Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language after Mandarin, and not a surprise at the top of languages to learn. ...
  2. German. ...
  3. Arabic. ...
  4. Mandarin. ...
  5. Portuguese. ...
  6. Russian. ...
  7. French.
Oct 19, 2022

What country spoke English first? ›

English originated in England and is the dominant language of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and various island nations in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

What is the closest language to English? ›

The closest language to English is one called Frisian, which is a Germanic language spoken by a small population of about 480,000 people. There are three separate dialects of the language, and it's only spoken at the southern fringes of the North Sea in the Netherlands and Germany.

What is the 2 largest language family? ›

Another important language family is the Sino-Tibetan family. It is the world's second largest language family, with more than one billion speakers of its hundreds of different languages.

What is the longest language in the world? ›

This member of the Dravidian family is probably the longest surviving language in the world and also the oldest written language. Since Tamil is the oldest modern language, it definitely ranks high up on the list of the world's 10 oldest languages.

What is the simplest language ever? ›

That metaphorical process is at the heart of Toki Pona, the world's smallest language.

What is the most rarely used language? ›

Current data states that there are only 7 remaining speakers of the language. Written records are available, such as a dictionary and several books that show the grammar and syntax of the Dumi language. Dumi is the world's least spoken language and one of the rarest.

What is the 0 1 language? ›

That language of 1's and 0's is called binary. Computers speak in binary because of how they are built.

How many Americans can speak Chinese? ›

Chinese (including Cantonese, Mandarin and other varieties) – 2,900,000 native speakers.

What is the 20 hardest language to learn? ›

25 Hardest Languages to Learn, Ranked
  1. Mandarin. No. of speakers: 1.3 billion.
  2. Arabic. No. of speakers: 274 million. ...
  3. Japanese. No. of speakers: 126 million. ...
  4. Korean. No. of speakers: 80 million. ...
  5. Thai. No. of speakers: 60 million. ...
  6. Vietnamese. No. of speakers: 77 million. ...
  7. Hindi. No. of speakers: 615 million. ...
  8. Icelandic. No. ...
Oct 25, 2022

What language has the most words? ›

If we were to base our answer solely on the strict number of dictionary entries, English is among the largest languages by word count. It has more than 200,000 words in the Oxford English Dictionary, including 171,476 words in use and 47,156 obsolete words.

What are the 5 easiest languages? ›

5 easy languages to learn
  • English. It's the most widely spoken language in the world, making practice possible. ...
  • French. French has over 100 million native speakers and is – as the official language in 28 countries – spoken on almost every continent. ...
  • Spanish. ...
  • Italian. ...
  • Swahili.
Feb 29, 2016

What is the youngest language? ›

Derived from Dutch, the Afrikaans language boasts 7.2 million native speakers.

When did humans first speak? ›

Researchers have long debated when humans starting talking to each other. Estimates range wildly, from as late as 50,000 years ago to as early as the beginning of the human genus more than 2 million years ago. But words leave no traces in the archaeological record.

What was the first language spoken in America? ›

Before English, people in the Americas spoke Spanish and various Native American languages. The Native American tribes throughout America each had their own, unique language. The first European language spoked in America was Spanish, which the Spanish conquistadors brought with them.

Which country speaks faster? ›

There unfortunately have not been any wide-ranging studies on language speed. One 2011 study from the Université de Lyon looked at 7 languages, which reported the order as Japanese (7.84 syllables per second), Spanish (7.82), French (7.18), Italian (6.99), English (6.19), German (5.97) and Mandarin (5.18).

Which language no longer exists? ›

Recently extinct languages
DateLanguageLanguage family
29 July 2016Gugu ThaypanPama-Nyungan
11 February 2016Nuchatlaht dialect of Nuu-chah-nulthWakashan
4 January 2016WhulshootseedSalishan
4 February 2014KlallamSalishan
28 more rows

Is there a dead language? ›

Currently, there are 573 known extinct languages. These are languages that are no longer spoken or studied. Many were local dialects with no records of their alphabet or wording, and so are forever lost. Others were major languages of their time, but society and changing cultures left them behind.

What language will we speak in 2050? ›

Mandarin. Mandarin is likely to be the most spoken language in 2050 because of its vast number of speakers. The economic influence of China will also prove vital for the continued use and spread of Chinese languages around the world.

What will be the world language in 2050? ›

Although Mandarin is predicted to dominate by 2050, other Chinese languages are also predicted to thrive over the next three decades.

What is the most spoken language 2023? ›

Read on to learn more about the best languages to learn in 2023!
  1. Chinese. Chinese is the most widely spoken language in the world—spoken in some form by 1.2 billion people—so it only makes sense to include it on this list. ...
  2. Spanish. ...
  3. Korean. ...
  4. French. ...
  5. German. ...
  6. 6. Japanese. ...
  7. Italian. ...
  8. Portuguese.
Nov 23, 2022

What language will overtake English? ›

The Natixis study claims French could overtake English and even Mandarin in terms of worldwide speakers by 2050.

Which is a dying language? ›

Definitely endangered - children no longer learn the language as a 'mother tongue' in the home.
...
UNESCO languages by degress of endangeredness.
Name in EnglishNumber of speakersDegree of endangerment
Kangdi1700000Definitely endangered
Scots1500000Vulnerable
Torlak1500000Vulnerable
West Flemish1500000Vulnerable
142 more rows
Apr 15, 2011

What is the newest language to exist? ›

The world's youngest languages
  • Light Warlpiri. Spoken in Australia by 350 people, Light Warlpiri is one of the newest languages in the world. ...
  • Esperanto. Esperanto is spoken internationally by an estimated 30,000 to 180,000 users. ...
  • Lingala. Coming in as the most well-known language on the list is Lingala. ...
  • Gooniyandi.
Feb 28, 2022

Will English stop being the global language? ›

English will most likely not become the dominant world language as more people speak more than one language, a language expert reports. The world faces a future of people speaking more than one language, with English no longer seen as likely to become dominant, a British language expert says in a new analysis.

Which language has best future? ›

Top 10 Programming Languages of the Future | Future Programming Languages
  • Python.
  • R.
  • Java.
  • C#
  • C++
  • Kotlin.
  • JavaScript.
  • TypeScript.
Oct 31, 2022

What is the fastest growing language in America? ›

According to research studies, the fastest growing languages in the United States in the last 10 years:
  • Telugu (150%)
  • Arabic (62%)
  • Hindi (61%)
  • Urdu (45%)
  • Chinese (35%)
  • Gujarati (31%).
Nov 17, 2022

What is the 3 oldest language? ›

Greek is the third oldest language in the world. Latin was the official language of the ancient Roman Empire and ancient Roman religion. It is currently the official language of the Roman Catholic Church and the official language of the Vatican City. Like Sanskrit, it is a classical language.

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