How Many Languages Are There In The World?

How Many Languages Are There In The World?

What do you think, how many languages are there in the world?

 

Language is a quite fascinating way of communication between people. It is something that makes us different from animals.

However, the number of languages worldwide varies daily.

 

According to  WorldAtlas, there are around 7.099 languages in the world. 

And tomorrow, perhaps, that number can be 7.100 or 7.097 depending on many factors, but it mostly depends on us, people.

Every language on our planet matters; the ‘small’ ones, even the ‘dead’ ones. So, stay with us, because we are going to talk about languages and we’ll show you which countries record hundreds of languages. 

 

We’re also going to share some fun facts about languages and explore the reason why languages die.

Let’s dive in.

The most spoken languages in the world

While some of the languages are considered small or minor because of the number of their speakers, others, on the other hand, are widely spoken. 

Let’s take a glimpse at the ten most spoken languages in the world:

  1. English
  2. Mandarin Chinese
  3. Hindi
  4. Spanish
  5. French
  6. Arabic
  7. Bengali
  8. Russian
  9. Portuguese
  10. Indonesian

 

Hundreds of Languages in One Country

Some countries are a real treasure for linguists and language lovers since in one country, there are thousands of languages. 

Let’s take a look at some of them.

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is located in the southwestern Pacific.

When it comes to languages, it’s the most diverse country and multilingual nation with more than 800 different languages. It has twice the languages spoken than the whole European continent.

Official languages are Tok, Hiri Mtu, English, and sign language.

Indonesia

The second place goes to the country with over 17.000 islands which are located between the Pacific and Indian oceans.

Islands such as Sumatra, Java, New Guinea, and Borneo are known all over the world.

Indonesia counts around 700 different languages.

The official language is Indonesian, while other local languages are mainly Austronesian. Other local languages are Javanese, Musi, Sudanese.

These languages are still in the center of linguistic attention and represent the treasure for language-lovers.

Nigeria

There are more than 500 different languages. And that’s not all. Many languages remained unclassified, so there might be even more of them.

Languages spoken in Nigeria are from Niger-Congo and Afro-Asiatic language families. But what makes this country even more interesting is that the official language is English.

India

Although you already know that languages spoken in India are English and Hindi, there’s more to it. 

In fact, India has around 450 different languages. 

Hindi is the most spoken language, with around 422.000.000 speakers.

United States of America

With English as the primary and official language, the USA is in fifth place as the country with most languages. 

Besides English, there are around 347 different languages spoken in the USA. After English, the most spoken languages are Spanish, Chinese, French, Vietnamese, and Tagalog.

‘Small’ or Minority Languages

When we take a quick look back, we can say that we mentioned around 2.500 languages. But where are the rest of the 4.500-5.000 languages hiding? 

Many languages are not so popular, some even unknown such as languages spoken in Siberia, Russia, like Chukchi language with barely 5.000 speakers, or Pemón, Caribbean Native American language with 24.000 speakers.

And there are many more languages with a small number of speakers, that will disappear one day.

Why Do Languages Die?

As we mentioned, languages can also die.

According to the statistics, every 14 days, one language disappears.

When the last speaker of the language passes away, the language dies with them. 

It is considered that half of the languages in the world will disappear by the end of this century. According to The Linguist List, around 570 languages have already disappeared.

How To Prevent Languages From Dying

So, what can we do to prevent those languages from disappearing?

Well, we can do something, but we can’t help them disappear. Around 40% of languages, which are around 2.800 languages, have less than 1.000 speakers.

Many countries, such as Spain and France, put an effort to save minor languages from dying.

Many organizations are trying to save languages, such as Wikitongues.

But, still, there is hope. Some languages can ‘rise from the dead.’ The Hebrew language is a great example.

Final Thoughts

When you’re a language enthusiast, there’s never enough time to learn all the things that you want. 

As the Chinese proverb says: ‘To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world.’ 

So, among more than 7.000 languages, learning even one, it can mean the world to you. Give it a try.

Interested in becoming fluent in a new language? Check out these top online learning resources:

Kick off your learning with Babbel, where interactive, enjoyable lessons are designed to blend smoothly into your routine, fostering fast and effective language learning.

For those aiming for an in-depth understanding, Udemy provides a broad spectrum of courses from basic to advanced levels.

To enhance your speaking skills, Preply connects you with native speakers for personalized coaching, ensuring significant improvement. Take advantage of a 50% discount on your first lesson at Preply with this link.

How many official languages are there in the world?

There are 178 languages recognized in as official in the world.

What is the first language in the world?

Tamil is considered to be the oldest language.

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