List of languages by number of native speakers
|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (May 2015)|
Half of the world's population speaks the 13 most populous languages. 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 name||Native speakers (millions)||% of world population||Mainly spoken in||Notes|
|Mandarin||官話/官话||955*||14.4%||China, Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia||Part of Chinese language family|
|Spanish||Español||405*||6.15%||Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Western Sahara. See List of countries where Spanish is an official language||Partially mutually intelligible with Portuguese and Italian|
|English||English||360*||5.43%||United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand. See List of countries where English is an official language|
|Hindi||हिन्दी||310*||4.70%||India, Nepal, Fiji, Pakistan.||Part of Hindi languages family. Includes approx. 100 million speakers of other Hindi dialects not counted below. Mostly mutually intelligible with Urdu. Schedule 8 official language of India.|
||295*||4.43%||Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria, Bahrain, Chad, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Iraq, Palestine, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Western Sahara, Somaliland, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen. See List of countries where Arabic is an official language.||Arabic also is a liturgical language of 1.6 billion Muslims. The Arabic language contains many different dialects. Many are not mutually intelligible. See Varieties of Arabic|
|Portuguese||Português||215*||3.27%||Portugal, Brazil, Angola, Cape Verde, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe, Guinea-Bissau, Timor-Leste, and Macau. See List of countries where Portuguese is an official language||Partially mutually intelligible with Spanish and mostly mutually intelligible with Galician|
|Bengali||বাংলা||205*||3.11%||Bangladesh, India (West Bengal, Tripura, Assam, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Jharkhand (secondary)), Sierra Leone(honorary official language), Karachi, Pakistan (as a recognized secondary language)||Schedule 8 official language of India.|
|Russian||Русский||155*||2.33%||Russia, Ukraine, and the Commonwealth of Independent States. See List of countries where Russian is an official language.||Partially mutually intelligible with Ukrainian and Belarusian.|
|102*||1.44%||India, Pakistan (Punjab region)||Schedule 8 official language of India.|
|German||Deutsch||89*||1.39%||Germany, Austria, Belgium (Eupen-Malmedy), Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Italy (South Tyrol). See List of countries where German is an official language.||Wide dialect variety, within which many dialects are not mutually intelligible with the standard language.|
|Javanese||Basa Jawa||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. In terms of native speakers, Javanese is also more widely spoken than Indonesia's sole official language, Bahasa Indonesia.|
|Wu||吳語 / 吴语||80||1.20%||China (Zhejiang, Shanghai, southern Jiangsu)||Part of Chinese language family|
|Malay/Indonesian||Bahasa Melayu/بهاس ملايو
Bahasa Malaysia/بهاس مليسيا
|77||1.16%||Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore||Most Indonesians are fluent in Indonesian along with their local dialect, meaning some estimates raise the number from 77 to around 268 million native speakers.|
|Telugu||తెలుగు||76||1.15%||India (Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Puducherry)||Schedule 8 official language of India.|
|76||1.14%||North Korea, South Korea|
|French||Français||74||1.12%||France and its territories, Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, Haiti, Luxembourg, Algeria, Central African Republic and other Francophonie member states. See Geographical distribution of French speakers|
|Marathi||मराठी||73||1.10%||India (Maharashtra, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat)||Schedule 8 official language of India.|
|Tamil||தமிழ்||70||1.06%||India (Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Puducherry), Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius||Schedule 8 official language of India.|
||66||0.99%||India, Pakistan||Mostly mutually intelligible with Hindi. Schedule 8 official language of India also official and National Language of Pakistan.|
||65||0.99%||Iran, Afghanistan (known as Dari language), Tajikistan (known as Tajik language)||Pluricentric language with three standard varieties (in Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan) and a wide dialect variety, within which some dialects are not mutually intelligible with at least one of the standard languages.|
|Turkish||Türkçe||63||0.95%||Turkey, Cyprus, Iraq||Part of Turkic languages. Partially mutually intelligible with Azeri, Crimean Tatar, Gagauz and Urum|
|Italian||Italiano||59||0.90%||Italy, Switzerland, San Marino||Partially mutually intelligible with Spanish.|
|Cantonese||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|
|Gujarati||ગુજરાતી||49||0.74%||India (Gujarat, Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli)||Schedule 8 official language of India.|
|Jin||晉語 / 晋语||48||0.72%||China (Shanxi, parts of Inner Mongolia, Hebei, Henan, Shaanxi)||Part of Chinese language family|
|Min Nan||閩南語 / 闽南语||47||0.71%||China (Fujian, Guangdong, and Hainan), Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Brunei||Part of Chinese language family|
|Kannada||ಕನ್ನಡ||38||0.58%||India (Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra)||Schedule 8 official language of India.|
|Xiang||湘語 / 湘语||38||0.58%||China (Hunan)||Part of Chinese language family|
|Malayalam||മലയാളം||38||0.57%||India (Kerala, Lakshadweep, Mahé)||Schedule 8 official language of India.|
|Sundanese||38||0.57%||Indonesia (Java)||Sundanese is the second largest language (after Javanese) without an official status anywhere (not counting varieties of Chinese such as Wu, Yue, Jin, Min Nan, Xiang).|
|Odia||ଓଡ଼ିଆ||33||0.50%||India (Odisha)||Schedule 8 official language of India.|
|Hakka||客家話 / 客家话||31||0.46%||China (Southern)||Part of Chinese language family|
|Ukrainian||українська мова||30||0.46%||Ukraine||Partially mutually intelligible with Russian and Belarusian.|
|Bhojpuri||भोजपुरी||29||0.43%||India (Bihar)||Part of Bihari. This is only a fraction of the speakers; the others are counted under Hindi above.|
|Yoruba||Èdè Yorùbá||28||0.42%||Nigeria, Benin, Togo|
|Maithili||मैथिली, মৈথিলী||27||0.41%||India (Bihar), Nepal||Part of Bihari. This is only a fraction of the speakers; the others are counted under Hindi above. Schedule 8 official language of India.|
|Swahili||Kiswahili||26||0.39%||Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo ||Swahili is the most widely spoken language in Africa.|
|26||0.39%||India, Pakistan (Sindh)||Schedule 8 official language of India. Sindhi is the official language of the Pakistani province of Sindh.|
|Fula||Fulfulde||24||0.37%||West and Central Africa, from Senegal to Sudan|
|Oromo||Afaan Oromo||24||0.36%||Ethiopia, Kenya|
|Azerbaijani||Azərbaycanca||23||0.34%||Azerbaijan, Iran||Partially mutually intelligible with Turkish|
|Awadhi||अवधी||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.|
|Gan||贛語 / 赣语||22||0.33%||China (Jiangxi)||Part of Chinese language family|
|Cebuano||Binisaya||21||0.32%||Philippines (Central and Southern)|
|Dutch||Nederlands||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” (Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria)|
|19||0.28%||Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Kosovo|
||17||0.26%||Pakistan (Sindh) and Punjab|
|Nepali||नेपाली||17||0.25%||Nepal, India (Sikkim, Darjeeling, Assam), Bhutan, Myanmar||Schedule 8 official language of India.|
|Chittagonian||টগাঁইয়া বুলি||16||0.24%||Bangladesh (Chittagong)|
|Assamese||অসমীয়া||15||0.23%||India Assam (India)||Schedule 8 official language of India.|
|Madurese||Madhura||15||0.23%||Indonesia ( Madura, and Java)|
|Somali||Af-Soomaali||15||0.22%||Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Dijibouti, Yemen|
|Marwari||मारवाड़ी||14||0.21%||India, Pakistan (Rajasthan), Nepal||This is only a fraction of the speakers; the others are counted under Hindi above.|
|Magahi||मगही||14||0.21%||India (Bihar)||Part of Bihari|
|Haryanvi||हरियाणवी||14||0.21%||India (Haryana)||Part of Hindi languages family|
|Chhattisgarhi||छत्तीसगढ़ी||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.|
|Chewa||Nyanja||12||0.17%||Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe|
|Deccan||دکنی||11||0.17%||India (Deccan)||Part of Urdu|
|11||0.17%||Ghana, Ivory Coast|
|Min Bei||閩北語 / 闽北语||10.9||0.16%||China (Fujian)||Part of Chinese language family|
|Kinyarwanda||Ikinyarwanda||9.8||0.15%||Rwanda||Part of Rwanda-Rundi|
|Haitian Creole||Kreyòl Ayisyen||9.6||0.15%||Haiti|
|Min Dong||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|
|Swedish||Svenska||8.7||0.13%||Sweden, Finland||Largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish|
|Hmong||8.4||0.13%||Laos||A language family, not a language|
|Hiligaynon||8.2||0.12%||Philippines (Western Visayas)|
|Belarusian||беларуская мова||7.6||0.11%||Belarus||Only half this many use it as their home language. Partially mutually intelligible with Russian and Ukrainian.|
|Balochi||بلوچی||7.6||0.11%||Iran, Pakistan (Balochistan)|
|7.4||0.11%||India (Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra)||Schedule 8 official language of India.|
Charts and graphs
- 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 sign languages by number of native signers
- Lists of languages
- World language
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- 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...
- Gbogboti (28 March 2012). "Top 10 Most Spoken Languages In All Of Africa". Retrieved 26 June 2015.
- "African Languages". Harvard Department of African and African American Studies. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
- 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.