Although a language originates in one particular country, it is often adopted by other countries around the world. While some languages are only spoken by the people living in one small country, there are many languages that are spoken by millions of people across the globe. There may be slight variations for each of these languages from one country to the next, but they are generally accepted as being a variant of the most commonly known language. Within them are also dialects, colloquialisms and varying vernacular. Here are the top ten languages spoken in the world and a little interesting information about each of them.
The most widely spoken country in the world is Mandarin. This is part of the Chinese language family and is spoken by 955 million native speakers across the globe, accounting for 14.4% of the world’s population. There are various dialects of Mandarin depending on the area it is spoken in and speakers of this language mainly live in China, Singapore and Taiwan. If you wanted to say hello to somebody in Mandarin, then you would say ‘nǐ hǎo’, pronounced ne-in haOW .
6.15% of the population speak Spanish. This is a total of 407 million. A further 60 million people speak Spanish as a second language. In addition to Spain, 18 countries in South America Speak Spanish, including Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Venezuela and Chile; along with Mexico, part of the United States of America and Western Sahara. Spanish is classified as an Iberian Romance language, as is Portuguese. ‘Buenos dias’ is how you would say good morning in this language.
English is a language spoken in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the Commonwealth of Nations, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the United States of America. English speakers account for 5.43% of the population as there are 359 million of them worldwide. Some vernacular is different between the countries. For example, what people in the United Kingdom call chips, people in the United states call fries. Similarly, what people in the United States call chips, people in the United Kingdom call crisps. There are also some differences in the spelling of words, although they are pronounced the same.
This is actually a family of languages that are native to India and Nepal. In spite of only being native to two countries, a staggering 311 million people are speakers of Hindi. This is 4.7% of the world’s population. It is mutually intelligible with Urdu. This means that although they are different languages with different dialects, there are enough similarities between the languages that speakers of one could recognise the meaning of the other. If you wished to say hello to someone in Hindi, then you would say ‘namastē’.
Arabic is spoken in the Arabic League although there are many different dialects within this language. If you wished to thank somebody in Arabic, then you would say ‘shukran’. 293 million people speak this language. This equates to 4.43% of the population. There are so many varieties of this language that it is considered a sociolinguistic language. The varieties of the group are commonly linked together,
This language is spoken in a number of countries including Portugal, Brazil, São Tomé, Angola, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Príncipe and Timor-Leste. It is partially mutually intelligible with Spanish and is spoken by 216 million people worldwide. In total, 3.27% of the worldwide population speak this language. Portuguese for hello is ‘olá’ and to say goodbye is ‘adeus’.
Bengali is a language spoken in Bangladesh and in some parts of India, including Assam, Tripura and West Bengal. 3.11% of the population speak this language, 206 million. It originates for the dialects of Magadhi Prakrit and Pali. If you wished to welcome someone in to your home in Bengali you would say ‘sbāgata’. The National Anthems of both Bangladesh and India are composed in the Bengali language.
2.33% of the world’s population speak Russian. This is no surprise when you consider the size of the country. Russian is also partially mutually intelligible by Ukrainian and Belarusian speakers. It is a language spoken in Russia, Ukraine and the Commonwealth of Independent States. In the Ukraine it is an unofficial language even though it is widely spoken. The word used for goodbye in Russian is pronounced ‘privet’.
Although his language has made it into the top ten of the most spoken languages of the world, it is actually only native to Japan. 126 million people speak this language, the same as 1.9% of the people in the world. If you want to thank someone in Japanese, then there are four ways to do this. Domo arigatou (casual), arigatou (very informal),domo (polite but informal) and arigatou gozaimasu (a formal thank you very much). Little is known about the history of the Japanese language.
74 million people speak French worldwide, totalling 1.12% of the world’s population. It is a language spoken not only in France, but also in Canada, Switzerland, Côte d’Ivoire, Belgium, Senegal, Francophonie, Algeria, Gabon and Mauritius. Including those countries where it is spoken as an unofficial language, a minority language or a second language, French is spoken in 29 countries globally. Another interesting fact is that it is the third most spoken language in the European Union. ‘Bonjour’ is French for hello and ‘au revoir’ is how you would say goodbye. If you wished to thank someone in French then you would say ‘merci’.
The ten most commonly spoken languages in the world are not all spoken in the countries they have originated from. In fact, they are widely spread across the globe, with many countries speaking the same language. It is common for different dialects to exist within these languages or for them to be mutually intelligible. Differing vernaculars or colloquialisms are also common, meaning that although much of the language is the same, some words and expressions will differ but are generally understood between nations that speak the same language. It is also common for different variations of a language to be grouped together and classified as one.