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According to Dutch sociologist Abram de Swaan, a sociological classification of languages based on large scale social role for their speakers:
- Supercentral languages: very widely spoken languages that serve as connectors between speakers of central languages; according to de Swaan, there are twelve of these: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Hindi, Japanese, Malay, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swahili;
- Central languages: widely spoken languages
- Peripheral languages: the rest – languages that not many people consider worth learning except to improve one's own communication faculties.
See also 
- ^ Book description: Words of the World - "The Global Language System", by Abram De Swaan (University of Amsterdam)