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The 10 most spoken languages in the world

What are the 10 most spoken languages in the world? You may be wondering which language(s) to learn first. Or maybe you're trying to find out which ones are the most interesting for your work. Or you may be simply curious. Whatever the purpose behind it, the answer is not as simple as it sounds. What do you mean by "most spoken language"? The languages with the most native speakers? The ones with the most people who speak them well? Or perhaps you want to rank them by counting natives and non-natives? The ranking will not be quite the same. The distinction between language and dialect is also difficult to make. For example, Catalan was not considered a language in its own right until 2009, which is very recent. So how do you make the distinction when making a ranking? Having said that, it is fortunately possible to make an overall ranking. Here, we will take the total number of people speaking the language, whether native or non-native. So, ready to find out the ranking? Do you have a basic idea before reading the article? Spanish, English, Chinese, and maybe Russian? And in what order? Find out here in our top 10!

1. Mandarin

Unsurprisingly, the number 1 in our ranking happens to be Mandarin. Most people speak "Chinese" as a single, uniform language. In reality, it is the variant of Mandarin which is the official language in China and has 897 million native speakers. Mandarin, "普通话 (Putonghua)", means "the national language". The language is written using Chinese characters, and there are two versions of this script. The first is the "traditional" version and the "simplified" version used in China, Singapore and Malaysia. You need to know about 3,000 symbols to be able to read a simple newspaper! Learning this language is well worth the effort, given its global economic weight and the population that speaks this language. Discover our interactive chinese course.

2. English

Still no surprise for the second of the list. English is the mother tongue of 371 million people, but it is spoken by 983 million people on Earth. It's the international language you can't do without if you want to be understood around the world. This is due to years of colonialism in different parts of the world, and the dominance of American culture and economy today. English is of Latin origin and has been influenced by many influences, especially French. 3. Hindi Hindi is slightly superior to Spanish! 544 million people speak this language, especially in India and Pakistan. Hindi and Urdu speakers are counted here together because the two people who speak these languages can easily understand each other. The language is in the process of becoming the official language of the South of India to replace English, so this is the ideal time to learn the language.

3. Hindi

Hindi is a little bit better than Spanish! 544 million people speak this language, especially in India and Pakistan. Hindi and Urdu speakers are counted here together because the two people who speak these languages can easily understand each other. The language is in the process of becoming the official language of southern India to replace English, so this is the ideal time to learn the language!

4. Spanish

Counting only the number of people whose mother tongue is Spanish, Spanish moves up to second place in the ranking. There are 436 million native Spanish speakers, mainly in Spain and Latin America. A total of 527 million people speak the language, through different dialects of the language. It is also the second most widely spoken language in the United States, which is why more and more people are seeking to learn it. Its importance is growing on the world stage.

5. Arabic

It is perhaps "the" language that will be the most debated in this list. Although it is the official language of 26 countries, the Arabic spoken in Morocco and Egypt, for example, are unrelated. All these countries use "literary" Arabic for writing and academic purposes. In everyday reality, people use their dialectal Arabic, so it is difficult to speak a single uniform language. But in general, it remains a language spoken by 422 million people, native and non-native. It is therefore impossible to overlook it in the rankings.

6. Malay

Finally a language a little more surprising here: 281 million people who make it live. It is the official language in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia. Among them, there are more speakers whose mother tongue is not Malay: 204 million people. The language is so close to Indonesian that some consider it more of a dialectal difference. The profound differences, especially political, forbid the people who speak them from mixing the two languages.

7. Russian

It is the most widespread language of Slavic origin with its 267 million speakers. Russian is the official language of 4 countries: Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. It is therefore the most widely spoken language in Europe and has considerable weight in negotiations within the continent. Many people are interested in it despite its apparent difficulty for tourist reasons.

8. Bengali

Yet another amazing language in our ranking to look out for! The official language of Bangladesh and several other Indian countries with a total of 261 million speakers. It's a language close to English, and that's another reason to take an interest in it. The Bengali script is relatively unknown in the West, but it is in fact the fifth most widely used writing system in the world. More people in the world write in Bengali than in the Cyrillic alphabet.

9. Portuguese

Portuguese developed from Latin and is closely related to modern Spanish. The name comes from "Portugal", its name comes from Porto, the second largest city in the country. Someone who speaks Portuguese is called a lusophone. The vast majority of Lusophones live in Brazil, where there are more than twice as many Lusophones as in the rest of the world! Today, Portuguese is an official language in nine countries, as well as in the Chinese territory of Macao: 229 million speakers.

10. French

It is the ancient language of diplomacy which closes this top 10 of the most spoken languages in the world. 229 million speakers of which only 76 million are native speakers. It is mainly spoken in France, Canada, Belgium and Switzerland, but it is also spoken in former French colonies such as Algeria. French is a Romance language, but over the centuries it has been strongly influenced by Celtic and Germanic languages. The language and the country are named after the Franks, a collection of medieval tribes whose language, Franconian, was Germanic and not Romanesque. Frankish" is now extinct, but is thought to have contributed many words to the modern French vocabulary. French, in turn, contributed many words to the English vocabulary, largely due to the Norman invasion of Britain in 1066.
Whatever the French themselves may think, sometimes a little devastated by the triumph of English, their language is still very much alive and used all over the world.


So much for the world's most spoken languages! However, they are only a drop in the bucket of over 7000 languages that are still used today - sometimes more than a few people use.

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