What Languages Are Spoken in Asia? Your Guide to Asian Languages

What Languages Are Spoken in Asia? Your Guide to Asian Languages

The Mysterious East and Orient: What Languages Are Spoken in Asia?

There are more than 7.000 different languages across the globe.

Around 2.300 of them are spoken in Asia.

That’s quite a number, isn’t it?

Even though they are one of the most spoken languages in the world, Chinese, Japanese, Korean are only some of the languages spoken in Asia.

Besides these three, there are many more commonly spoken languages you might not have heard of them.

That’s why in this post, you’ll going to meet languages spoken in Asia.

Naming every spoken language in Asia is a huge and very responsible task because the number of more than 2.300 different languages isn’t small.

But in the following lines, we will mention the 16 most common and widely spoken languages on the Asian continent.

Arabic

Language family: Semitic

The number of native speakers: 310 million

Arabic is spoken mainly in the Middle East, in the countries, such as Bahrein, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Iran, Palestine, Saudia Arabia, Syria, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.

Even though Arabic is considered one of the hardest languages to learn for English speakers, you’ll find some facilities in learning it, especially in the vocabulary. 

In the middle centuries, Arabic had a big influence on Europe and its languages, so in languages like French, Spanish, Portuguese, or English many words are used in everyday situations that originate from Arabic.

Bengali

Language family: Indo-Aryan

The number of native speakers: 250 million

Bengali is spoken in Bangladesh and the eastern part of India. 

Being part of an Indo-Aryan language family, Bengali is close relative to Hindi and Punjabi languages, and, surprisingly, a distant language sibling to Indo-European languages, such as Romance, Slavic, and Germanic languages.

Chinese

Language family: Sino-Tibetan

The number native of speakers: 1.3 billion

Spoken in China, Taiwan, and Singapore, Chinese has many variations. Some of the most spoken are Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien, Wu, Xiang, Min, and Hakka.

Interestingly, Chinese variations can be quite different in that two speakers of different Chinese dialects can’t understand each other. Therefore, if you want to learn Chinese, you have to choose the variation you’ll study.

Chinese is also considered the most difficult language to learn. However, many people worldwide are studying it, so it might isn’t as difficult as people think.

The language consists of characters, around 10.000 of them where each one represents a word or a phrase.

Here’s one fun fact about Chinese: it is believed that those to learn and speak Chinese use both sides of their brain.

Filipino (Tagalog)

Language family: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian

The number of native speakers: 45 million

The Filipino language is spoken in the Philippines. It is also known as Tagalog, but there’s a little difference between these two.

Filipino is chosen as the official national language of The Philipines. However, Tagalog is some kind of ‘plus’ language because Filipino includes borrowed words from other languages, mainly European.

Additionally, in the Philippines, there are more than 100 different regional languages spoken.

Hindi

Language family: Indo-Aryan

The number of native speakers: 260 million

Hindi is one of the most-known languages spoken in India.

It is the official language in several states in the northern part of India.

Besides Hindi, there are many other widely spoken languages in India, such as Gujarati, Kannada, Pashto, Tamil, Telugu.

Indonesian

Language family: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian

The number of native speakers: 43 million

Did you know that there are more than 700 different languages spoken in Indonesia?

However, only one is the official, Indonesian, also known as Bahasa Indonesia, spoken, naturally, in Indonesia.

Although being official, it is the second most spoken language in the country. Far more spoken and popular is Javanese.

Japanese

Language family: Japonic

The number of native speakers: 128 million

Japanese is spoken in Japan, one of the most eastern countries in the world, also known as the House of the rising Sun.

Interestingly, Japanese has no official status in Japan. It is considered only a native language.

At first sight, many would say that Japanese is close relative to Chinese and Korean, but it isn’t. Japanese is a language isolate, which means that the language has no linguistic relatives.

The language, however, uses some of the Chinese characters and words that originate from Chinese.

Korean

Language family: Koreanic

The number of native speakers: 77 million

Spoken in North and South Korea, and in the parts of China along with the Korean border, the language is considered to be a language isolate, although many believe that it belongs to the Dravidian language family, while others claim that it belongs to the Altaic language family, with Turkish and Mongolian as language siblings.

Mongolian

Language family: Mongolic

The number of native speakers: 6 million

Mongolian is the official language in Mongolia and neighboring countries, along with Mongolian borders.

Mongolian is one of the oldest living languages on the planet and it is considered s one of the most difficult languages to learn. 

Interestingly, Mongolian use the Cyrillic alphabet, which mainly uses some Slavic languages but is more similar in grammar and vocabulary with Japanese and Korean.

Persian

Language family: Indo- Iranian

The number of native speakers: 70 million

Persian is spoken in Afghanistan, Iran, and Tajikistan.

It is also known by many other names, such as Farsi, called in Iran, Dari, called in Afghanistan, and Tajik called in Tajikistan.

Punjabi

Language family: Indo-Aryan

The number of native speakers: 125 million

Punjabi is spoken in Pakistan and some parts of northern India. It is also the most spoken language in Pakistan.

The language is close relative to Hindi, Bengali, and Persian. 

An official script Punjabi uses is called Gurmukhi.

Russian

Language family: Indo- European, Slavic

The number of native speakers: 138 million

You must be wondering why is here Russian?

Even though it can sound a little weird, indeed, Russian is widely spoken in Asia. Besides Russia, it is the official language in Kyrgistan and Kazakhstan and one of the languages spoken in eight more Russian-speaking countries.

Thai

Language family: Tai-Kadai

The number of native speakers: up to 36 million

Among 60 different languages spoken in Thailand, Thai is the official language and de facto national language.

Spoken language depends on social and linguistic factors, such as age, education, gender, or class.

The language is also very similar to Lao. They share many words and phrases.

Turkish

Language family: Turkic

The number of native speakers: 78 million

Turkish is the most widely spoken Turkic language. It is the official language in Turkey and Cyprus.

Even though it is naturally associated with Turkey, the first scripts in Turkish were found in Mongolia.

Along with Hungarian, Turkish is one of the most known agglutinative languages, and one of the languages that uses vowel harmony.

Urdu

Language family: Indo-Aryan

The number of native speakers: 70 million

One of the languages spoken in southeast Asia is Urdu. Along with Hindi, Urdu is the official and national language in several Indian states. It is also a lingua franca in Pakistan.

Besides being language siblings, Hindi and Urdu share many similarities, therefore they both are defined as Hindustani languages.

Vietnamese

Language family: Austroasiatic/ Mokhmer

The number of native speakers: 76 million

Besides being spoken in Vietnam as the official language, Vietnamese is also spoken in eastern India and southern China.

In case you didn’t know, Vietnam was under Chinese rule for more than 1.000 years. Therefore, Chinese influence on the Vietnamese is big. Besides the Chinese, French also influenced on Vietnamese because the country was also under French rule.

 

Out of more than 2.000 different languages spoken in Asia, the 16 ones we’ve mentioned are the most common ones with the largest number of native speakers.

However, the other 2.000+ aren’t less important or less interesting to learn.

In case you would like to get to know all the languages that are spoken in Asia, you can find them here.

Share your opinion with us in the comments below!

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