List of languages by number of native speakers
Half of the world's population speak the 13 most populous languages, the other half of the world speak the rest. The following table lists the languages of the world with the largest number of native speakers as estimated by the Swedish Nationalencyklopedin (2007, 2010).
Since the distinction of language and dialect is often arbitrary, some mutually intelligible idioms with separate national standards or self-identification have been unified, including Indonesian and Malay; Croatian, Bosnian, and Serbian; etc., but not Standard Hindi and Urdu.
For a list of languages with the smallest numbers of native speakers, see Lists of endangered languages.
The following table contains the top 100 languages by estimated number of speakers in the 2007 edition of Nationalencyklopedin. As census methods in different countries vary to a considerable extent, and some countries do not record language in their censuses, any list of languages by native speakers, or total speakers, is based on estimates. Updated estimates from 2010 are also provided.
Hindustani has been divided into the sociolinguistic units of Hindi and Urdu, while a number of northern Indian languages have been partially merged into "Hindi", reflecting self-identity reported in the Indian census. This Hindi is thus not a language in the linguistic sense.
Note: Languages with an asterisk (*) have been updated with figures from the 2010 edition of the Nationalencyklopedin.
|Language||Native speakers (millions)||% of world population||Mainly spoken in||Notes|
官話 / 官话
|955*||14.4%||Mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Brunei||Part of Chinese language family|
|405*||6.15%||Spain, Mexico, United States, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, Venezuela, Equatorial Guinea, and Western Sahara||Partially mutually intelligible with Portuguese|
|English||360*||5.43%||United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Hong Kong, and Commonwealth of Nations|
|310*||4.70%||India, Nepal, and Fiji||Part of Hindi languages family. Includes approx. 100 million speakers of other Hindi languages not counted below. Mutually intelligible with Urdu.|
|300*||4.57%||Bangladesh and India (West Bengal, Tripura, Assam)|
|295*||4.43%||Arab League||Arabic also is a liturgical language of 1.6 billion Muslim speakers. The Arabic language contains many different dialects. Many are not mutually intelligible. See Varieties of Arabic|
|215*||3.27%||Portugal, Brazil, Angola, Cape Verde, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe, Guinea-Bissau, Timor-Leste, and Macau||Partially mutually intelligible with Spanish|
|155*||2.33%||Russia, Ukraine, and the Commonwealth of Independent States||Partially mutually intelligible with Ukrainian and Belarusian.|
|102*||1.44%||India, Pakistan (Punjab region)|
|89*||1.39%||Germany, Austria, Belgium (Eupen-Malmedy), Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Italy (South Tyrol)|
|82||1.25%||Indonesia (Java)||Javanese is the largest language without an official status anywhere (and thus the largest minority language in the world), despite being used throughout Southeast Asia and Suriname.|
吳語 / 吴语
|80||1.20%||China (Zhejiang, Shanghai, southern Jiangsu)||Part of Chinese language family|
|77||1.16%||Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore|
|76||1.15%||India (Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Puducherry)|
|76||1.14%||North Korea, South Korea|
|74||1.12%||France and its territories, Belgium, Canada, Switzerland, Gabon, Algeria, Mauritius, Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire, other Francophonie members|
|73||1.10%||India (Maharashtra, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat)|
|70||1.06%||India (Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Puducherry), Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius|
|66||0.99%||India, Pakistan||Mutually intelligible with Hindi|
|65||0.99%||Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan|
|59||0.90%||Italy, Switzerland, San Marino|
粵語 / 粤语
|59||0.89%||Mainland China (Guangdong (Canton) and southern Guangxi), Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia, and Brunei||Part of Chinese language family|
|49||0.74%||India ( Gujarat, Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli)|
晉語 / 晋语
|48||0.72%||China (Shanxi, parts of Inner Mongolia, Hebei, Henan, Shaanxi)||Part of Chinese language family|
閩南語 / 闽南语
|47||0.71%||Mainland China (Fujian, Guangdong, and Hainan), Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Brunei||Part of Chinese language family|
|38||0.58%||India (Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra)|
湘語 / 湘语
|38||0.58%||China (Hunan)||Part of Chinese language family|
|38||0.57%||India (Kerala, Lakshadweep, Mahé)|
||38||0.57%||Indonesia (Java)||Sundanese is the second largest language (after Javanese) without an official status anywhere (not counting Chinese dialects such as Wu, Yue, Jin, Min Nan, Xiang).|
客家話 / 客家话
|31||0.46%||China (Southern)||Part of Chinese language family|
|30||0.46%||Ukraine||Partially mutually intelligible with Russian and Belarusian.|
|29||0.43%||India (Bihar)||Part of Bihari. This is only a fraction of the speakers; the others are counted under Hindi above.|
|28||0.42%||Nigeria, Benin, Togo|
|27||0.41%||India (Bihar), Nepal||Part of Bihari. This is only a fraction of the speakers; the others are counted under Hindi above.|
|26||0.39%||Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda|
|26||0.39%||India, Pakistan (Sindh)|
|24||0.37%||West and Central Africa, from Senegal to Sudan|
|22||0.33%||India (Uttar Pradesh)||Part of Hindi languages family. This is only a fraction of the speakers; the others are counted under Hindi above.|
贛語 / 赣语
|22||0.33%||China (Jiangxi)||Part of Chinese language family|
|21||0.32%||Philippines (Central and Southern)|
|21||0.32%||Netherlands, Dutch Caribbean islands, Belgium (Flanders, Brussels), Suriname||Highly mutually intelligible with Afrikaans, a daughter language of Dutch spoken primarily in South Africa and Namibia|
|21||0.31%||“Kurdistan” (Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Syria)|
|19||0.28%||Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Kosovo|
|17||0.25%||Nepal, India (Sikkim, Darjeeling, Assam), Bhutan, Myanmar|
|16||0.24%||China (Guangxi)||Actually 13 or more languages; related to Thai, not part of Chinese language family.|
|15||0.23%||India Assam (India)|
|15||0.23%||Indonesia ( Madura, and Java)|
|15||0.22%||Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Dijibouti, Yemen|
|14||0.21%||India, Pakistan (Rajasthan), Nepal||This is only a fraction of the speakers; the others are counted under Hindi above.|
|14||0.21%||India (Bihar)||Part of Bihari|
|14||0.21%||India (Haryana)||Part of Hindi languages family|
|12||0.19%||India (Chhattisgarh)||Part of Hindi languages family. This is only a fraction of the speakers; the others are counted under Hindi above.|
|12||0.17%||Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe|
|11||0.17%||India (Deccan)||Part of Urdu|
|11||0.17%||Ghana, Ivory Coast|
閩北語 / 闽北语
|10.9||0.16%||China (Fujian)||Part of Chinese language family|
|9.8||0.15%||Rwanda||Part of Rwanda-Rundi|
閩東語 / 闽东语
|9.5||0.14%||China (Fujian)||Part of Chinese language family|
|Quechua||8.9||0.13%||Peru, Bolivia||A language family, not a language|
|Kirundi||8.8||0.13%||Burundi, Uganda||Part of Rwanda-Rundi|
|Hmong||8.4||0.13%||Laos||A language family, not a language|
|Hiligaynon||8.2||0.12%||Philippines (Western Visayas)|
|7.6||0.11%||Belarus||Only half this many use it as their home language. Partially mutually intelligible with Russian and Ukrainian.|
|7.6||0.11%||Iran, Pakistan (Balochistan)|
|7.4||0.11%||India (Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra)|
- Global language system
- Linguistic demography
- Linguistic Diversity Index
- List of ISO 639-3 codes
- List of languages by total number of speakers
- List of languages by number of native speakers in India (uses a different definition of Hindi)
- List of most widely spoken languages (by number of countries)
- List of sign languages by number of native signers
- Lists of languages
- Nationalencyklopedin "Världens 100 största språk 2007" The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007. In parentheses are the 2010 estimates for the top languages.
- GAVILANES LASO, J. L. (1996) Algunas consideraciones sobre la inteligibilidad mutua hispano-portuguesa In: Actas del Congreso Internacional Luso-Español de Lengua y Cultura en la Frontera, Cáceres, Universidad de Extremadura, 175–187.
- "Comparação Português e Castelhano". Omniglot.com. Retrieved 2014-04-23.
- "Algumas observações sobre a noção de língua portuguesa" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-04-23.
- "Executive Summary". The Future of the Global Muslim Population. Pew Research Center. Retrieved 22 December 2011.
- "Table: Muslim Population by Country | Pew Research Center's Religion & Public Life Project". Features.pewforum.org. 2011-01-27. Retrieved 2014-05-18.
- Alexander M. Schenker. 1993. "Proto-Slavonic," The Slavonic Languages. (Routledge). Pp. 60–121. Pg. 60: "[The] distinction between dialect and language being blurred, there can be no unanimity on this issue in all instances..."
C.F. Voegelin and F.M. Voegelin. 1977. Classification and Index of the World's Languages (Elsevier). Pg. 311, "In terms of immediate mutual intelligibility, the East Slavic zone is a single language."
Bernard Comrie. 1981. The Languages of the Soviet Union (Cambridge). Pg. 145–146: "The three East Slavonic languages are very close to one another, with very high rates of mutual intelligibility...The separation of Russian, Ukrainian, and Belorussian as distinct languages is relatively recent...Many Ukrainians in fact speak a mixture of Ukrainian and Russian, finding it difficult to keep the two languages apart...
- Ethnologue's most recent list of languages arranged by number of speakers
- List of top 100 languages in 13th edition of Ethnologue (1996)
- Different lists of the most spoken languages (the Ethnologue list is from a previous, not the 2005, edition).
- Ethnologue – SIL's Ethnologue, widely referenced source for the world's languages
- Languages Spoken by More Than 10 Million People (Archived 2009-10-31) – Encarta list, based on data from Ethnologue, but some figures (e.g. for Arabic) widely vary from it
- Top 30 languages of the world
- 30 most widely spoken world languages
- Interactive world map of language distribution
- Map of World Languages. Download of MP3 audio files in 1600 language combinations.