A World Of Languages

Whilst working on my previous post There’s English and there’s English, I came across this wonderful chart on languages.  There are at least 7,102 known languages alive in the world today. Twenty-three of these languages are a mother tongue for more than 50 million people.

The 23 languages make up the native tongue of 4.1 billion people and the chart below illustrates each language within black borders and then provide the numbers of native speakers in millions by country. The colour of these countries shows how languages have taken root in many different regions.

I love a good chart and I hope you enjoy this one as much as I do.languageshqscmp-3

If you enjoyed this, then check out this Amazing Chart On The Rise & Fall of Civilisations.

About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including several #1 sellers. I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. I run my private tours company with one tour stated by the leading travel website as being with the #1 authentic London Experience. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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15 Responses to A World Of Languages

  1. Mel & Suan says:

    Amazing the diversity is indeed.
    Thing is though – if we were to look at it from an angle of communicating across cultures, English might come up to more than the 315m people!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I think so too. If you include everyone who can speak English as a second language then the figure must be huge. Whereas not many people speak Turkish, Russian or Javanese outside their countries. Even Chinese is quite restricted outside the countries surrounding China.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mel & Suan says:

        Absolutely. Chinese though comprises of so many dialects, some mutually un-intelligible to each other. Wonder if it should even be classed together!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, I had a family one from Singapore or Malaysia. The old Grandfather was complaining to me when I asked about Chinese languages. He said when he was young, everyone would could speak 3 or 4 languages depending on where they live. Now he says most can only speak the main Chinese language and English. It was nice to see old people in Singapore are like old people in the UK and Europe, disappointed in how things have changed!!

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Ankur Mithal says:

    Amazing! With more people speaking the popular languages, I believe communication is easing. However, the flip side is that we are likely to lose languages in the process.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I read that we will lose hundreds of languages b the end of this century. Britain used to have lots of languages and now it is reduced to English, Welsh, Gaelic and a few related languages that very few people speak such as Cornish which has only around 100 people. Just out of interest, how many languages can you speak? I can speak a few sentences of Gujarati and Hindi due to friends whose families originally lived in India. I’m guess India is one place where many languages might centralise around 1 or 2 languages plus English.


  3. Graham says:

    Interesting. I wonder how many speak English (and other tongues) as a second language. Any chance you can rework the chart? 🙂

    I met a Swiss tourist recently who had come to NZ on holiday and spent the first week at an English language school so she could get to grips with the language and better enjoy her holiday. She told me I was so lucky because, being from England, I can go anywhere and it is so easy. Interesting perspective I hadn’t thought of before. I guess we have a lot to thank the British empire builders to for…when they weren’t busy committing acts of atrocity.


    • According to Wikipedia this is the top list of second languages in the world. I guess there are quite a few clever folk that speak it as a third language.
      Rank Language L2 speakers
      1 Mandarin Chinese (incl. Standard Chinese) 193 million
      2 English 660 million
      3 Spanish 91 million
      4 Hindustani (Hindi/Urdu) 215 million

      Anyway in total there is 1.15 Billion Chinese speakers and 1.06 Billion English speakers. 661 million Spanish and 544 million Hindi/Urdu speakers. It is interesting these figures are from Wikipedia and have more English speakers as a first language and less Chinese speakers as a first language…. I got the chart originally from a Chinese newspaper 🙂

      Yes I guess it’s true though it can be annoying if you do actually want to practice a language abroad as you get swamped by everyone wanting to practice English. It is nice though that you can get by in most places without trying much 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Language success has to do with the political power of its civilization. Languages die, and it is not that of a complex mechanism. i wrote something about that in my blog. When you look at history, it is quite obvious to why.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Language by the numbers | Stephen Liddell

  6. Pingback: A World Of Languages – Technology: The Native Tongue of the 21st Century

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