List of Languages by Number of Native Speakers
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List of Languages by Number of Native Speakers

Current distribution of human language families

This article ranks human languages by their number of native speakers.

However, all such rankings should be used with caution, because it is not possible to devise a coherent set of linguistic criteria for distinguishing languages in a dialect continuum.[1] For example, a language is often defined as a set of varieties that are mutually intelligible, but independent national standard languages may be considered to be separate languages even though they are largely mutually intelligible, as in the case of Danish and Norwegian.[2] Conversely, many commonly accepted languages, including German, Italian and even English, encompass varieties that are not mutually intelligible.[1] While Arabic is sometimes considered a single language centred on Modern Standard Arabic, other authors describe its mutually unintelligible varieties as separate languages.[3] Similarly, Chinese is sometimes viewed as a single language because of a shared culture and common literary language.[4] It is also common to describe various Chinese dialect groups, such as Mandarin, Wu and Yue, as languages, even though each of these groups contains many mutually unintelligible varieties.[5]

There are also difficulties in obtaining reliable counts of speakers, which vary over time because of population change and language shift. In some areas, there is no reliable census data, the data is not current, or the census may not record languages spoken, or record them ambiguously. Sometimes speaker populations are exaggerated for political reasons, or speakers of minority languages may be under-reported in favour of a national language.[6]

Top languages by population

Ethnologue (2019, 22nd edition)

The following languages are listed as having at least 10 million first language speakers in the 2019 edition of Ethnologue, a language reference published by SIL International, which is based in the United States.[7]

Languages with at least 10 million first-language speakers[7]
Rank Language Primary Country[clarification needed] Total
Countries[a]
Speakers
(millions)
% of the World population

(March 2019)[8]

Language family
Branch
1 Mandarin (language family)[9] China 13 918 11.922 Sino-Tibetan
Sinitic
2 Spanish Spain 31 460 5.974 Indo-European
Romance
3 English United Kingdom 137 379 4.922 Indo-European
Germanic
4 Hindi[10] India 4 341 4.429 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
5 Bengali Bangladesh 4 228 2.961 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
6 Portuguese Portugal 15 221 2.870 Indo-European
Romance
7 Russian Russian Federation 19 154 2.000 Indo-European
Balto-Slavic
8 Japanese Japan 2 128 1.662 Japonic
Japanese
9 Western Punjabi[11] Pakistan 2 92.7 1.204 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
10 Marathi India 1 83.1 1.079 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
11 Telugu India 2 82.0 1.065 Dravidian
South-Central
12 Wu (language family)[9] China 1 81.4 1.057 Sino-Tibetan
Sinitic
13 Turkish Turkey 8 79.4 1.031 Turkic
Oghuz
14 Korean South Korea 6 77.3 1.004 Koreanic
language isolate
15 French France 54 77.2 1.003 Indo-European
Romance
16 German Germany 28 76.1 0.988 Indo-European
Germanic
17 Vietnamese Viet Nam 4 76.0 0.987 Austroasiatic
Vietic
18 Tamil India 7 75.0 0.974 Dravidian
South
19 Yue (language family)[9] China 13 73.1 0.949 Sino-Tibetan
Sinitic
20 Urdu[10] Pakistan 7 68.6 0.891 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
21 Javanese Indonesia 3 68.3 0.887 Austronesian
Malayo-Polynesian
22 Italian Italy 14 64.8 0.842 Indo-European
Romance
23 Egyptian Arabic Egypt 1 64.6 0.839 Afroasiatic
Semitic
24 Gujarati India 7 56.4 0.732 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
25 Iranian Persian Iran 7 52.8 0.686 Indo-European
Iranian
26 Bhojpuri India 3 52.2 0.678 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
27 Min Nan (language family)[9] China 10 50.1 0.651 Sino-Tibetan
Sinitic
28 Hakka China 13 48.2 0.626 Sino-Tibetan
Sinitic
29 Jinyu China 1 46.9 0.609 Sino-Tibetan
Sinitic
30 Hausa Nigeria 9 43.9 0.570 Afroasiatic
Chadic
31 Kannada India 1 43.6 0.566 Dravidian
South
32 Indonesian (Indonesian Malay) Indonesia 1 43.4 0.564 Austronesian
Malayo-Polynesian
33 Polish Poland 10 39.7 0.516 Indo-European
Balto-Slavic
34 Yoruba Nigeria 3 37.8 0.491 Niger-Congo
Volta-Niger
35 Xiang Chinese (language family)[9] China 1 37.3 0.484 Sino-Tibetan
Sinitic
36 Malayalam India 2 37.1 0.482 Dravidian
South
37 Odia India 1 34.5 0.448 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
38 Maithili India 2 33.9 0.440 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
39 Burmese Myanmar 1 32.9 0.427 Sino-Tibetan
Lolo-Burmese
40 Eastern Punjabi[11] India 3 32.6 0.423 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
41 Sunda Indonesia 1 32.4 0.421 Austronesian
Malayo-Polynesian
42 Sudanese Arabic Sudan 4 31.9 0.414 Afroasiatic
Semitic
43 Algerian Arabic Algeria 2 29.4 0.382 Afroasiatic
Semitic
44 Moroccan Arabic Morocco 3 27.5 0.357 Afroasiatic
Semitic
45 Ukrainian Ukraine 9 27.3 0.355 Indo-European
Balto-Slavic
46 Igbo Nigeria 1 27.0 0.351 Niger-Congo
Volta-Niger
47 Northern Uzbek Uzbekistan 6 25.1 0.326 Turkic
Karluk
48 Sindhi Pakistan 3 24.6 0.319 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
49 North Levantine Arabic Syria 5 24.6 0.319 Afroasiatic
Semitic
50 Romanian Romania 6 24.3 0.316 Indo-European
Romance
51 Tagalog Philippines 3 23.6 0.306 Austronesian
Malayo-Polynesian
52 Dutch Netherlands 7 23.1 0.300 Indo-European
Germanic
53 Sa?idi Arabic Egypt 1 22.4 0.291 Afroasiatic
Semitic
54 Gan China 1 22.1 0.287 Sino-Tibetan
Sinitic
55 Amharic Ethiopia 2 21.9 0.284 Afroasiatic
Semitic
56 Northern Pashto Pakistan 4 20.9 0.271 Indo-European
Iranian
57 Magahi India 2 20.7 0.269 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
58 Thai Thailand 2 20.7 0.269 Kra-Dai
Tai
59 Saraiki Pakistan 2 20.0 0.260 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
60 Khmer Cambodia 2 16.6 0.216 Austroasiatic
Khmer
61 Chhattisgarhi India 1 16.3 0.212 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
62 Somali Somalia 4 16.2 0.210 Afroasiatic
Cushitic
63 Malay (Malaysian Malay) Malaysia 3 16.1 0.209 Austronesian
Malayo-Polynesian
64 Cebuano Philippines 1 15.9 0.206 Austronesian
Malayo-Polynesian
65 Nepali Nepal 3 15.8 0.205 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
66 Mesopotamian Arabic Iraq 4 15.7 0.204 Afroasiatic
Semitic
67 Assamese India 1 15.3 0.199 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
68 Sinhala Sri Lanka 2 15.3 0.199 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
69 Northern Kurdish Turkey 9 14.6 0.190 Indo-European
Iranian
70 Hejazi Arabic Saudi Arabia 3 14.5 0.188 Afroasiatic
Semitic
71 Nigerian Fulfulde Nigeria 3 14.5 0.188 Niger-Congo
Senegambian
72 Bavarian Austria 4 14.1 0.183 Indo-European
Germanic
73 South Azerbaijani Iran 5 13.8 0.179 Turkic
Oghuz
74 Greek Greece 9 13.1 0.170 Indo-European
Hellenic
75 Chittagonian Bangladesh 1 13.0 0.169 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
76 Kazakh Kazakhstan 6 12.9 0.168 Turkic
Kipchak
77 Deccan India 1 12.8 0.166 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
78 Hungarian Hungary 9 12.6 0.164 Uralic
Ugric
79 Kinyarwanda Rwanda 3 12.1 0.157 Niger-Congo
Bantu
80 Zulu South Africa 5 12.1 0.157 Niger-Congo
Bantu
81 South Levantine Arabic Jordan 4 11.6 0.151 Afroasiatic
Semitic
82 Tunisian Arabic Tunisia 1 11.6 0.151 Afroasiatic
Semitic
83 Sanaani Spoken Arabic Yemen 1 11.4 0.148 Afroasiatic
Semitic
84 Min Bei Chinese (language family)[9] China 2 11.0 0.143 Sino-Tibetan
Sinitic
85 Southern Pashto Afghanistan 4 10.9 0.142 Indo-European
Iranian
86 Rundi Burundi 2 10.8 0.140 Niger-Congo
Bantu
87 Czech Czech Republic 8 10.7 0.139 Indo-European
Balto-Slavic
88 Ta?izzi-Adeni Arabic Yemen 2 10.5 0.136 Afroasiatic
Semitic
89 Uyghur China 4 10.4 0.135 Turkic
Karluk
90 Min Dong Chinese (language family)[9] China 6 10.3 0.134 Sino-Tibetan
Sinitic
91 Sylheti Bangladesh 2 10.3 0.134 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan

Nationalencyklopedin (2010)

The following table contains the top 100 languages by estimated number of native speakers in the 2007 edition of the Swedish encyclopedia Nationalencyklopedin. As census methods in different countries vary to a considerable extent, and given that some countries do not record language in their censuses, any list of languages by native speakers, or total speakers, is effectively based on estimates. Updated estimates from 2010 are also provided.[12]

The top eleven languages have additional figures from the 2010 edition of the Nationalencyklopedin. Numbers above 95 million are rounded off to the nearest 5 million.

Top languages by population per Nationalencyklopedin
Rank Language Native
speakers
in millions
2007 (2010)
Percentage
of world
population
(2007)
1 Mandarin (entire branch) 935 (955) 14.1%
2 Spanish 390 (405) 5.85%
3 English 365 (360) 5.52%
4 Hindi[b] 295 (310) 4.46%
5 Arabic 280 (295) 4.23%
6 Portuguese 205 (215) 3.08%
7 Bengali 200 (205) 3.05%
8 Russian 160 (155) 2.42%
9 Japanese 125 (125) 1.92%
10 Punjabi 95 (100) 1.44%
11 German 92 (95) 1.39%
12 Javanese 82 1.25%
13 Wu (inc. Shanghainese) 80 1.20%
14 Malay (inc. Indonesian and Malaysian) 77 1.16%
15 Telugu 76 1.15%
16 Vietnamese 76 1.14%
17 Korean 76 1.14%
18 French 75 1.12%
19 Marathi 73 1.10%
20 Tamil 70 1.06%
21 Urdu 66 0.99%
22 Turkish 63 0.95%
23 Italian 59 0.90%
24 Yue (inc. Cantonese) 59 0.89%
25 Thai 56 0.85%
26 Gujarati 49 0.74%
27 Jin 48 0.72%
28 Southern Min (inc. Hokkien and Teochew) 47 0.71%
29 Persian 45 0.68%
30 Polish 40 0.61%
31 Pashto 39 0.58%
32 Kannada 38 0.58%
33 Xiang 38 0.58%
34 Malayalam 38 0.57%
35 Sundanese 38 0.57%
36 Hausa 34 0.52%
37 Odia (Oriya) 33 0.50%
38 Burmese 33 0.50%
39 Hakka 31 0.46%
40 Ukrainian 30 0.46%
41 Bhojpuri 29[c] 0.43%
42 Tagalog (Filipino) 28 0.42%
43 Yoruba 28 0.42%
44 Maithili 27[c] 0.41%
45 Uzbek 26 0.39%
46 Sindhi 26 0.39%
47 Amharic 25 0.37%
48 Fula 24 0.37%
49 Romanian 24 0.37%
50 Oromo 24 0.36%
51 Igbo 24 0.36%
52 Azerbaijani 23 0.34%
53 Awadhi 22[c] 0.33%
54 Gan 22 0.33%
55 Cebuano (Visayan) 21 0.32%
56 Dutch 21 0.32%
57 Kurdish 21 0.31%
58 Serbo-Croatian 19 0.28%
59 Malagasy 18 0.28%
60 Saraiki 17[d] 0.26%
61 Nepali 17 0.25%
62 Sinhalese 16 0.25%
63 Chittagonian 16 0.24%
64 Zhuang 16 0.24%
65 Khmer 16 0.24%
66 Turkmen 16 0.24%
67 Assamese 15 0.23%
68 Madurese 15 0.23%
69 Somali 15 0.22%
70 Marwari 14[c] 0.21%
71 Magahi 14[c] 0.21%
72 Haryanvi 14[c] 0.21%
73 Hungarian 13 0.19%
74 Chhattisgarhi 12[c] 0.19%
75 Greek 12 0.18%
76 Chewa 12 0.17%
77 Deccan 11 0.17%
78 Akan 11 0.17%
79 Kazakh 11 0.17%
80 Northern Min[disputed ] 10.9 0.16%
81 Sylheti 10.7 0.16%
82 Zulu 10.4 0.16%
83 Czech 10.0 0.15%
84 Kinyarwanda 9.8 0.15%
85 Dhundhari 9.6[c] 0.15%
86 Haitian Creole 9.6 0.15%
87 Eastern Min (inc. Fuzhou dialect) 9.5 0.14%
88 Ilocano 9.1 0.14%
89 Quechua 8.9 0.13%
90 Kirundi 8.8 0.13%
91 Swedish 8.7 0.13%
92 Hmong 8.4 0.13%
93 Shona 8.3 0.13%
94 Uyghur 8.2 0.12%
95 Hiligaynon/Ilonggo (Visayan) 8.2 0.12%
96 Mossi 7.6 0.11%
97 Xhosa 7.6 0.11%
98 Belarusian 7.6[e] 0.11%
99 Balochi 7.6 0.11%
100 Konkani 7.4 0.11%
Total 5,610 85%

Charts and graphs

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Ethnologue counts some dependent territories as countries in its tallies.
  2. ^ Refers to only Modern Standard Hindi here. The Census of India defines Hindi on a loose and broad basis. It does not include the entire Hindustani language, only the Hindi register of it. In addition to Standard Hindi, it incorporates a set of other Indo-Aryan languages written in Devanagari script including Awadhi, Bhojpuri, Haryanvi, Dhundhari etc. under Hindi group which have more than 422 million native speakers as of 2001.[13] However, the census also acknowledges Standard Hindi, the above mentioned languages and others as separate mother tongues of the Hindi language and provides individual figures for all these languages.[13]
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h This is only a fraction of total speakers; others are counted under "Hindi" as they regard their language a Hindi dialect.
  4. ^ Numbers may also be counted in Punjabi above
  5. ^ Only half this many use Belarusian as their home language.

References

  1. ^ a b Paolillo, John C.; Das, Anupam (31 March 2006). "Evaluating language statistics: the Ethnologue and beyond" (PDF). UNESCO Institute of Statistics. pp. 3-5. Retrieved 2018.
  2. ^ Chambers, J.K.; Trudgill, Peter (1998). Dialectology (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-59646-6.
  3. ^ Kaye, Alan S.; Rosenhouse, Judith (1997). "Arabic Dialects and Maltese". In Hetzron, Robert (ed.). The Semitic Languages. Routledge. pp. 263-311. ISBN 978-0-415-05767-7.
  4. ^ Norman, Jerry (1988). Chinese. Cambridge University Press. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-521-29653-3.
  5. ^ Norman, Jerry (2003). "The Chinese dialects: phonology". In Thurgood, Graham; LaPolla, Randy J. (eds.). The Sino-Tibetan languages. Routledge. pp. 72-83. ISBN 978-0-7007-1129-1.
  6. ^ Crystal, David (1988). The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language. Cambridge University Press. pp. 286-287. ISBN 978-0-521-26438-9.
  7. ^ a b "Summary by language size". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2019. For items below #26, see individual Ethnologue entry for each language.
  8. ^ "World Population Clock: 7.7 Billion People (2019) - Worldometers". www.worldometers.info. Retrieved 2019.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Ethnologue does not distinguish individual Chinese languages. See varieties of Chinese.
  10. ^ a b Hindi and Urdu are often classified as standardized registers of a single Hindustani language.
  11. ^ a b Defined at the national border rather than by language
  12. ^ a b Mikael Parkvall, "Världens 100 största språk 2007" (The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007), in Nationalencyklopedin. Asterisks mark the 2010 estimates for the top dozen languages.
  13. ^ a b Abstract of speakers' strength of languages and mother tongues - 2000, Census of India, 2001
  14. ^ Summary by language size

External links


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