The World’s Top 10 Most Spoken Languages

The Briefing

  • Around 15% of the global population speaks English, making it the world’s most spoken language
  • However, only a third of English speakers consider it their native language
  • There are more native Mandarin Chinese speakers worldwide than native English speakers

The World’s 10 Most Spoken Languages

In today’s increasingly globalized world, having a shared means of communication—or an international language, rather—is more important than ever.

With over 1.1 billion speakers worldwide, English is currently the closest we’ve come to a lingua franca, a common language that connects people from different backgrounds.

However, Mandarin Chinese may one day catch up. Here’s a look at the top 10 most spoken languages across the globe:

RankLanguageTotal Speakers
1English1,132 million
2Mandarin Chinese1,117 million
3Hindi615 million
4Spanish534 million
5French280 million
6Standard Arabic274 million
7Bengali265 million
8Russian258 million
9Portuguese234 million
10Indonesian199 million

While English and Mandarin Chinese come close when looking at their total number of speakers, English has a wider geographical distribution—it’s classified as an official language in 67 different countries worldwide.

In contrast, Mandarin Chinese is recognized as an official language in just five regions.

Top 10 Languages By Native Speakers

Things look slightly different when looking at total native speakers, or people who consider a language their first/primary one.

In this instance, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish outrank English:

RankLanguageNative Speakers
1Mandarin Chinese918 million
2Spanish460 million
3English379 million
4Hindi341 million
5Bengali228 million
6Portuguese221 million
7Russian154 million
8Japanese128 million
9Western Punjabi93 million
10Marathi83 million

This begs the question—will English remain the “dominant” language in the years to come, or will the world be switching to a new lingua franca in the future?

»For a more in-depth look at languages, visit: The 100 Most Spoken Languages Around the World

Where does this data come from?

Source: Ethnologue
Notes: This database covers a majority of the world’s population and details approximately 7,111 living languages

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The post The World’s Top 10 Most Spoken Languages appeared first on Visual Capitalist.

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