What is the Most Spoken Language in the World?
Language is the main tool of communication across countries, cities, and regions. Even though you may be reading this article in English, there is a good chance that English may not be your mother tongue. According to statistics, only 33% of the billions of English speakers consider it their native language. The question here arises; is English the most spoken language in the world?
The popularity of a language depends largely on its geographic location and can vary depending on whether you consider the total speakers or the native speakers.
Here we take a look at the most spoken language in the world and the other popular languages that are widely spoken in different regions of the world. But before we explore the most spoken language list, let us take a look at how you define a language and a brief look at other popular and widely spoken languages in the world.
How Do You Define a Language?
Ever wondered how many languages there are in the world? According to Ethnologue, a database that covers a majority of the world’s population, there are approximately 7,111 living languages in the world.
The difference between a living and an extinct language is that a living language is still spoken by people in the world whereas an extinct language is not spoken by people at present anymore either because the speakers of these languages have died or new dialects have replaced the old languages.
The definition of a language is often dynamic, although the lines around a singular understanding of a language are usually blurred. The components of a language are:
- Linguistic: this aspect focuses on lexical as well as grammatical differences, or on variations within communities
- Social: this aspect focuses on cultural and political factors, in addition to heritage and identity.
In order to measure the spoken popularity of a language, researchers use the ISO 693-3 set of criteria, accounting for related dialects and varieties. This standard of measurement also ensures that linguistics is not the only factor that is considered in the count of languages. Hence, the popularity of a language is judged by the number of speakers of that language, combined with its usage in different industries and areas of everyday life.
The Most Spoken Language in the World
As previously mentioned, a language’s speakers may be categorized into native and non-native speakers. If we stick strictly to native speakers, we will find that Chinese Mandarin is the most widely spoken language in the world. According to statistics, Mandarin is also the second-most spoken language in the world.
However, if we account for the most spoken language in the world, irrespective of native or non-native speakers, we will find that English is the most widely spoken language in the world.
With a total of 1132 million speakers, English is an Indo-European language and has 379 million native speakers and 753 million non-native speakers. Much like Latin or Greek language in the past, English is the universal language of today and is used in wide areas of international business, tourism, technology, science, and more.
Most importantly, the English language is the language of the internet and is used in all social media platforms as a basic language of communication. Perhaps due to its wide usage on the internet, it is the primary language of communication in all media channels and platforms.
The English Language–Some Facts and Statistics
● English is the dominant language of the academic world
According to the statistics in 2020, 17 of the top 20 universities in the global ranking are English-speaking. This is the reason why the world’s top colleges and universities encourage learning and speaking English, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom. If English is not your native language, you can take tutoring classes in English to get a grip on this language for academic purposes.
● English is the common language of business
English is the most common language of business communication in the world. Learning and speaking English will help you be more employable in the wide world of business. Research has shown that the English language is the most important language for over 95% of employers worldwide. True enough, if you are not fluent in English, you will most likely miss out on very important conversations in your company as well as face difficulty in communicating with your customers.
● English is the easiest language to learn in the world
Apart from being the most widely spoken language in the world, English is also ranked as the easiest language to learn. This is because English nouns have no gender and have a simple grammar system. The sentence structure is straightforward without a tricky morphology. Most importantly, endless ways exist for people who want to learn the English language. These include magazines, TV, and books, to name a few.
Read: What is the Hardest Language to Learn?
● English is a useful language for travel
The tourism industry of today is flourishing and growing thanks to the vast number of English speakers across the world. Since English is a common language of the majority of the world population, it is the perfect language for communication across countries. If you are stuck somewhere, chances are you will be able to find your way through if you know even a little bit of English. Moreover, the hospitality business thrives on the English language as the main language of communication as a large number of tourists speak English either as their native language or as a second language.
The Other Most Widely Spoken Languages in the World
Apart from the English language, there are other languages that are widely and popularly spoken across the world. These languages are:
- Chinese Mandarin: Total speakers: 1117 million, Native speakers: 918 million, non-native speakers: 199 million
- Hindi: Total speakers: 615 million, native speakers: 341 million, non-native speakers: 274 million
- Spanish: Total speakers: 534 million, native speakers: 460 million, non-native speakers: 74 million
- French: Total speakers: 280 million, native speakers: 77 million, non-native speakers: 203 million
- Arabic: total speakers: 274 million, native speakers: 245 million, non-native speakers: 29 million
- Bengali: Total speakers: 265 million, native speakers: 228 million, non-native speakers: 37 million
- Russian: Total speakers: 258 million, native speakers: 154 million, non-native speakers: 104 million
- Portuguese: Total speakers: 234 million, native speakers: 221 million, non-native speakers: 13 million
- Indonesian: Total speakers: 198 million, native speakers: 43 million, non-native speakers: 155 million
The Last Word
If we take a look at the most popular and widely spoken languages of the world, we will realize that there is more than one popular language that is spoken by the masses. Nevertheless, through research, it has been found that English is the most spoken language in the world, followed closely by Chinese Mandarin which is the second most spoken language. It remains a true fact that the English language is the common language of communication in a wide range of industries, such as entertainment, medical, science, technology, and media. Due to its wide acceptance as the language of communication, it is ranked as the most widely spoken language in the world.