Reflections: The Most Spoken Languages* in the World

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Of the 7,000-plus living languages today,  Chinese tops the list with over one billion speakers, while English comes in second, with 942 million speakers. In third place, with about 570 million speakers, is Spanish. Read on as Asian Geographic breaks down the figures across the globe.

Chinese

Spoken by the Han majority and many  other ethnic groups in China, and also by nearly 1.2 billion people around the world, the metalanguage Chinese comprises numerous mutually unintelligible varieties.

Spanish

Spain’s colonial history in Latin America left a strong linguistic legacy. Originating in the Castile region in Spain, the language now has an estimated 570 million speakers in the world. Spanish is the native tongue in 35 countries and is spoken by about 472 million people as a first language.

English

A total of 339 million people speak English as their native language, 225 million of them in the United States. English is spoken in 110 countries, more than any other language.

*All rankings should be used cautiously, as it is difficult to define the difference between a language and a dialect, or between a language and a macrolanguage.

Check out the rest of this article in Asian Geographic No.120 Issue 5/2016 here or download a digital copy here

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