Talk:World language

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Russian, Arabic, and Chinese were removed from World Languages[edit]

This article is full of stupidity and lies.

How could the guardian of this article remove Russian, Arabic, and Chinese as world languages. Besides the reference for the total number of Spanish speakers were taken from which is obviously a not reliable source.

It's obvious that the caretaker of this article is a Hispanic, the same person who caused the closing of a language forum by posting nasty lies against French, German, Russian, and even Italian, Portuguese and English just to uplift his beloved Spanish.

Take note on his criteria of a world language

Some sources define a living world language as having the following properties:

1. a large number of speakers

2. a substantial fraction of non-native speakers (function as lingua franca)

3. official status in several countries

4. a linguistic community not defined strictly along ethnic lines (multiethnic, pluricentric language)

5. one or more standard registers which are widely taught as a foreign language

6. association with linguistic prestige

7. use in international trade relations

8. use in international organizations

9. use in the academic community

10. significant body of literature

He used "properties" instead of "criteria". Wrong usage of word.

Spanish does not fit in criteria 2, 6, 9, and 10 Russian fits in criteria 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, and 10 Arabic in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 10

So Russian and Arabic are more rightful to be called world language than Spanish since garnered just six out of ten criteria while Russian nine and Arabic seven.

As for Chinese, it may only fit on the criteria 1, 2, and 10 but it has the largest number of native speakers.

Another flaw in this article is French has just 68 million speakers. France has a population of 62 million and 100% of its people speak French. Canada has 10 million native speakers of French, Belgium 4.5 million, Switzerland 1.5 million, US 2 M, DOM-TOM 4 million plus its millions of speakers in Africa as first language.

Surely, this articles favors the Spanish language so much and the caretaker of this article wants the whole world believe that Spanish is behind English. The truth is French and English are the only true global languages. German is also a true global language. German fullfils the criteria 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 and 10 of a world language.

== This article is locked so that Spanish would appear as the 2nd world language == ABSOLUTELY TRUE !!! Spanish has no significance in the world other than in the west....oops(very tiny Equatorial Guinea too). I was so surprised that this article is locked to protect it from abuse. But whos abusing? The Hispanics themmselves lead by Instituto Cervantes.

What most websites fail to consider when profiling the status of world languages is this: MOST GEOGRAPHICALLY WIDESPREAD LANGUAGES !!!!!!!!!!!

For example, Spanish, although spoken by many millions of people, is NOT geographically widespread as an OFFICIAL language.By WIDESPREAD I mean from WEST TO EAST on the map, (or), around the world (globe).

For example, the Portuguese language blows Spanish away when one uses this criteria for determining which languages are the most widespread. Why? Because Portuguese is spoken officially in 5 continents in the world. Spanish, is spoken officially in 4 continents it would only be 3 if not for the very, very tiny African enclave of Equatorial Guinea.

99.5% of all the Spanish speakers in the world live in the western 1/3 of the world, whereas there are many millions of Portuguese speakers in official Portuguese speaking countries right across the world: Brazil (South America), Portugal (Europe), Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe (Africa), Macau (China), East Timor (Oceania).

Spanish speakers brag that their language is spoken in 21 countries. Brazil, which is HALF of South America, could have very easily been divided into 21 countries, but it remained intact as one GIANT half a continent country. This was better because now Brazil is an economic giant in the world (5th strongest economy in the world), and it is 1 of 4 BRIC countries. The Spanish speaking countries are nothing by comparison.

Conclusion: Portuguese is more widespread geographically (as an official language) than Spanish.

-> That's not true, Spanish is spoken officialy in Africa not only in Equatorial Guinea but also in Spanish African territories (Canary Islands, Ceuta and Melilla). And it is also spoken officialy in a territory in Oceania (Western Island, part of Chile). So Spanish is spoken officially in 5 continents in the world (North and South America, Europe, Africa and Oceania), whereas Portuguese is only spoken in 4 (South America, Europe, Africa and Asia)

That is the truth considering countries where language is official. Because, if we consider total number of speakers, the number of speakers of Portuguese and Spanish in Asia is very similar. Spanish is no longer official in the Philippines and Portuguese is still official in Macao and Eastern Timor, but in both cases it is not the main language of the country.

Moreover, Spanish is the official language of two countries with reclaims in Antartica

Spanish official in more than 20 countries of 5 continents and Portuguese only 9 countries. Spanish is widely spoken (millions of speakers) in some territories where it is not official (Andorra, Belice, the United States…) and Portuguese is not. Total number of speakers of Spanish is twice the number of speakers of Portuguese.

Do you want any more reasons

— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:16, 25 September 2014 (UTC)

The Chinese and Arabic languages were just restricted as Other Supra-Regional language just to favor the Spanish language.

The total total number of Hispanic speakers is not 495 milion but just 380 million.

On the other hand French has a total number of speakers of 500 million.

Only stupids would believe that Spanish has more secondary speakers than French exept for Ethnologue which is also biased towards Spanish, Bengali, and Tamil languages. —Preceding unsigned comment added by OptiStar (talkcontribs) 03:38, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia is confident to use the numbers given by Francophonie and Instituto Cervantes. According to Francophonie, French is spoken by some 200 million people. OOn the other hand, Spanish is spoken by some 500 million people according to Instituto Cervantes. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:45, 1 October 2010 (UTC)

A good stuff for a nice comedy[edit]

The classification of the German language alongside Malay and Swahili can deliver a good stuff for a nice comedy. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:48, 4 February 2011 (UTC)

Maybe this way Swahili will also be taught worldwide as a foreign language and used as a mean of communication in science and technics. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:28, 20 February 2011 (UTC)
The number of native German speakers is 101 Million. Including the SL there are 229 million speakers.

Source: "Top 30 languages of the world". Vistawide - World languages & cultures, foreign language learning tips, study & work abroad, free language study resources (s. German language by Wikipedia). Because of its function as lingua franca, German is clearly a world language. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:11, 7 February 2014 (UTC)

entire articles framework is biased[edit]

This article should be split up into different perspectives. Mainly because outside of politics and business French and English are the only two languages used globally. Even English and French are highly regional in their daily use outside of politics and business.

Some less inherently biased perspectives that I can think of: Native speakers, and secondary speaker population. A list of the major languages used in daily life for each region of the world. Foreign languages offered throughout most schools in each region.(for example Spanish, French, and German are usually offered in the US, English is offered as a foreign language throughout most of Asia). Languages used in Politics and Business in each Region

English is not only the language currency of politics and business. It is a tool of the science communication too. Genjix (talk) 03:42, 2 June 2010 (UTC)

According to the top world languages are: 1. English 21 %, 2. French 15 %, 3. German 14 %, 4. Chinese 12 %, 5. Spanish 10 %, 6. Russian 10 %, 7. Italian 10 %, 8. Japanese 9 % —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:58, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

This article, which has been semi-protected on 19 January 2011, is completely biased and the classification of the world languages needs a radical rectification to maintain the credibility of Wikipedia. The reliable source specified above ( states that English, French and German are the most-learnt world languages, which are also used worldwide in science and technics. They are followed by Chinese and Spanish. Spanisch is at the same time official language in several countries. Other frequently studied world languages are: Russian, Italian and Japanese. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:42, 26 January 2011 (UTC)

japanese, italian and other languages[edit]

I think some other languages should be added, i.e. Japanese and Italian. As for Italian, for example, it has a huge cultural strength (literature, music, cinema, arts) and is widely studied all around the world. What do you think about that? -- (talk) 16:58, 8 March 2009 (UTC)

I took out German. If Japanese isn't considered a world language then by the same standards German isn't a world language either. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:29, 13 June 2009 (UTC)

It is completely inacceptable to remove every mention of German whatsoever. I undid your edits. See the new section "German". MarcoF (talk) 11:41, 4 July 2009 (UTC)

Hm...dont know if this is correct. I think German can be considered as world language, specialy the influence in the EU and in east-europe is still very high. It got the second biggest numbers of total-speakers in the EU. In Namibia is also a high number of german speakers and in the USA are also many german minorities (Amish). (And 1/6 of the americans got germand descendents)--Contributions/ (talk) 11:44, 15 June 2009 (UTC)
One can say the same thing about Italian, and Japanese with respect to Asia.

You cannot compare Italian and Japanese with German. Firstly there are 90 M non-native German speakers. German is worldwide taught as a foreign language and used in the academic community for science communication. German still remains a lingua franca for large parts of Europe. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:47, 7 December 2010 (UTC)

numbers of speakers[edit]

it is pointless to debate these figures here. We should see to it that there are stable and referenced numbers given in the main articles on the respective languages linked, and we'll just replicate them here. If there are any disputes in this respect, they belong on the language article talkpages, not here. --dab (𒁳) 06:42, 21 January 2008 (UTC) the german article on world languages has completely different numbers.... Sprache ↓ Zahl der Sprecher in Millionen (Muttersprache) ↓ Zahl der Sprecher in Millionen (Zweitsprache) ↓ Zahl der Sprecher in Millionen (zusammen) ↓ Mandarin[2](Chinese) (Hochchinesisch) 873 178 1051 Englisch[3] (English) 309 199 508 Arabisch[4](Arabian) 206 246 452 Hindi / Urdu[5] (Hindustani) (Hindi) 242 163 405 Spanisch[6] (Spanish) 322 60 382 Russisch[7] (Russian) 145 110 255 Bengalisch[8] 171 40 211 Portugiesisch[9] 178 15 193 Deutsch[10] (German) 105 28 133 Japanisch[11] (Japanese) 122 1 123 Französisch[12] (French) 65 50 115 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:30, 14 September 2009 (UTC)


The population of Vietnam is around 88 million, so there are at least that many native speakers -- but it gets no mention at all? Mhhfive (talk) 17:59, 16 April 2009 (UTC)

Not everybody in Vietnam will be 1. a native speaker or 2. know Vietnamese. For example, there are millions of people in the US that are not native English speakers. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:56, 14 July 2013 (UTC)


Merriam-Webster's dictionaries are used as an authority of American English. To remove this but keep OED is an insult to Americans. —Nricardo (talk) 03:53, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

the information is taken from List of language regulators (introduction by Vuo, modification by Hyperborean anon modification). I don't doubt it is broadly correct, but we do need a source to attribute this to, especially if it is being disputed. --dab (𒁳) 09:49, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

Thanks. I corrected Webster's to Merriam-Webster on that page as well. —Nricardo (talk) 15:46, 22 January 2008 (UTC)
Aside from the fact that there's no such thing as "Commowealth English," the third edition of the OED covers American English as well as British English (and in much more detail than, say, Indian English or Caribbean English, if that's what you mean by "Commonwealth"). Merriam Webster is just one of several equally authoritative American dictionaries (the others being Random House unabridged, American Heritage, etc.) The New York Times and the Associated Press, for example, don't use the Merriam Webster dictionary. The Oxford English Dictionary is the only comprehensive record of the English language; this doesn't mean that the OED regulates the English language, or the English language as used in Britain or the Commonwealth of Nations or whatever; but Merriam Webster doesn't regulate anything at all. The fact tag is useless, because the claim is basically false in the first place. Jack(Lumber) 16:07, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

Saying there's no such thing as "Commonwealth English" is like saying there is no such thing as "English". True in a sense, but not very useful. OED is a de facto authority in cases of dispute precisely because there is no other authority to appeal to. Either way, we (a) need sources discussing this, and (b) need to discuss this at Talk:Standard English, not here. dab (𒁳) 17:29, 22 January 2008 (UTC)

Obviously, the OED does not "regulate" anything. And as a dictionary, the OED does not claim to be anything near complete on English outside the British Isles. It provides partial coverage of it, often not as good as that of much smaller American, Canadian, Australian dictionaries, etc. Joeldl (talk) 05:31, 13 May 2008 (UTC)

350 million native speakers of English???[edit]

You've got to be kidding. If you add up the populations of the US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland you get over 410 million!!!!! I know you are only counting native speakers, however, when counting up other languages it seems as though someone just added up the populations of all the countries where the particular language is spoken! Not everyone in Latin America speaks Spanish! Some speak Guarani, Quechua and Aymara. Not everyone in Germany, Austria and Switzerland speaks German either!!! Why do you only use native speakers for English??? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:54, 10 June 2008 (UTC)

You want to discuss this at Talk:English language. Far from everyone in the US or Canada speaks English natively. Also refer to the sources cited at List of languages by number of native speakers. --dab (𒁳) 11:20, 27 July 2008 (UTC)

You cannot compare the German-speking countries Germany, Austria and Switzerland with the English-dominated melting pots USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:34, 6 May 2011 (UTC)

"Not every one in Germany speaks German"? More than 97% do, maybe 99%. Even the majority of the people with turkish origin, living there more than ten years, speaks german. --Hans Eo (talk) 15:42, 19 January 2016 (UTC)


Within the international auxiliary language community the term "worldlang" is used to refer to newer auxlangs which have more globally based vocabularies, in contrast to Esperanto, Interlingua and such like older (late 19th century to mid 20th century, mostly) auxlangs. See the "Conlang terminology" article at the Conlang Wikia, and the relevant links from there. Should this terminology be mentioned in this article? It certainly needs to be added to International auxiliary language which almost without exception discusses older, purely European-based auxlangs. --Jim Henry (talk) 14:48, 22 August 2008 (UTC)

Nobel Prize[edit]

Using the Nobel Prize in literature as a measurement of world languages is highly dubious. The Prize is not a truly international prize, it reflects the literature known in Sweden and (for most of its history) translated into Swedish. Looking at the history of the prize, it correlates closely to which cultures have been in vogue in Sweden, with Germany dominating before WWII and the Anglosphere dominating in recent years. Let's not forget that no language has received as many Nobel Prizes in literature as Swedish itself; Sweden has more prizes than all of Asia and Africa combined. Even in Sweden, the prize is regularly criticised for being extremely focused on Western Europe in particular. It's not representative in any way of the influence of languages. JdeJ (talk) 09:59, 19 December 2008 (UTC)

I think at a minimum the use of the Nobel prize as an indication of which languages are "world languages" needs to be sourced. I've added the "unpublished synthesis" template.Joeldl (talk) 13:16, 19 December 2008 (UTC)

well, nobody said the criteria were "fair"; the very opposite, "world languages" are a thoroughly imperialist phenomenon. This includes the power of cultural imperialism wielded by the Nobel comittee. But I agree of course that this would need some sort of reference. --dab (𒁳) 10:14, 22 January 2009 (UTC)

The Nobel Prize in literature alone is not decisive for a world language. Moreover there are to be considered the prizes in technical sciences like phisics and chemistry. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:42, 6 December 2010 (UTC)


I changed the lower number of french native speakers, from 65 M to 80 M and deleted the reference since it stated a number of 51 M inhabitants in France, although it is now more than 10 years that the popuation of France outreached 60 M. You must add the 2 M French living abroad, a part of Belgium, Switzerland, and Canada at least, whose french language cannot be denied. The total number must count a variable part of the population of the french speaking countries of Africa, where French may not be the first language of all the population.

A reference with numbers dating from the ealy 80's is not a reference in demographics matters. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:25, 19 December 2008 (UTC)

The Ethnologue number may be outdated, but the 80 million number is original research without a source. Kman543210 (talk) 21:44, 19 December 2008 (UTC).

Some French fanatic wrote 500 million of French speakers. According to the same Francophonie, the French speakers are some 200 million. Spanish, according to the Instituto Cervantes, are some 500 million speakers.

500 million French speakers! Is this the sort of delusion one suffers just before expiring in the Sahara? Provocateur (talk) 22:38, 28 February 2009 (UTC)
Here is a source which shows that (2005) not more than 50m people spoke french as second language. [1].-- (talk) 15:11, 11 June 2009 (UTC)
I believe it was a typo. I think it's supposed to say there are 5000 million French speakers. =p —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:20, 10 October 2009 (UTC)

Portuguese, a world language?[edit]

Brazil is a fast growing nation with very prolific people,like India and other threshold countries. But this property alone doesn't suffice to qualify Portuguese as a world language. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:40, 5 December 2010 (UTC)

Portuguese does not fullfil the criteria 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 of a world language. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:37, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

Outside the countries where it is the official language, no one speaks Portuguese. So that it cannot be a world language. This fact can not even be hidden by semiprotection. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:44, 9 October 2011 (UTC)

Wrong. Without tons of references to give right there, Portuguese is learnt by a lot of people as a foreign language, a) in terms of Mercosul policies of mutual understanding between Brazil and the others (Spanish respectively Portuguese as an obligatory subject at school) and b) not being a native anglophone (and logically neither a native lusophone) I am able to speak it and see that other non natives do, too. Your sentence "Outside the contries where it is the official language, no one speaks Portugueses" teems with ignorance...Chapeau (talk) 12:40, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
I know that Portuguese is an obligatory subject at school in Brazil, Mr Ignorant. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:23, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
Well, I've seen those last two comments and clearly your so-called "Mr Ignorant" knows a little bit more about what he or she is talking than you, non-signing "Mr KnowItAll"...Firstly, it doesn't really matter if it is obligatory or not because you can learn languages later on abroad or at university etc. Doesn't strictly have to be at school. Secondly -- besides being an official language in nine countries and having far more than 200 million native speakers -- Portuguese actually is an obligatory school subject in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Zambia and RDC, thus having obligatory (as you hopefully could understand it) foreign speakers. In short, learn something, please, or do not write here. Thanks. (talk) 18:44, 4 September 2012 (UTC)

No world languages[edit]

The supra-regional languages Arabic, Russian and Portuguese cannot be considered as world languages. Although they are characterized by a large number of native speakers, this languages are not widely taught as a foreign language and their function as lingua franca is very limited. Thus the language classification of the editor CanadianLinuxUser is not acceptable. In Russia, for example, English and German are used preponderently as foreign languages. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:01, 26 March 2011 (UTC)

I've changed several times Arabic, Russian and Portuguese from the false category of world languages to their right place as supra-regional languages. But there is a clique of dissenting editors that resets all the changes without any plausible argument. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:11, 27 March 2011 (UTC)

Instead to jusify their opinions in a constructive discution, the named editors continue to delete any modification that doesn't fit in their concept. I think that such a behavior cannot be welcome by Wikipedia. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:29, 29 March 2011 (UTC)

It is incumbunt upon you to explain your reasoning for making said changes, with reliable third-party sources that support them.--Tærkast (Communicate) 15:36, 29 March 2011 (UTC)
Yeah, I was just gonna say that. Choyoołʼįįhí:Seb az86556 > haneʼ 15:41, 29 March 2011 (UTC) "Despite its status as a global language the international learning of Portuguese, and the schools which offer it as a subject, is smaller compared with more Euro-centric and smaller market languages such as German and Italian". The same can be said about Arabic and Russian too. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:43, 29 March 2011 (UTC)

"...its status as a global language" — not much into synonyms, are we? Choyoołʼįįhí:Seb az86556 > haneʼ 23:11, 29 March 2011 (UTC)

A language, which is not widely learnt and not spoken outside its official area, and which at the same time is not used worldwide in science and technics, is obviously no world language. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:27, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

Nothing is obvious. You guys need to stop warring over it and bring refs. Choyoołʼįįhí:Seb az86556 > haneʼ 10:47, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

It's a pity that some editors cannot accept the idea of logical thinking. If you want to see the ranking of some of the world's major languages, then read at Don't be disappointed if Portuguese doesn't appear among the first 8. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:14, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

What constitutes a world language appears to be open to interpretation, and the article itself provides an idea of the definition (whether one user disagrees on that definition is irrelevant) of a world language. Further more, if the information is reliably sourced, then there is no reason it should go unless thre are reliable sources to the contrary.--Tærkast (Communicate) 16:59, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

A further discussion is really senceless. The article itself actually tries to provide an idea of a world-language definition. But only 3 of your 6 listed world languages come up to the necessary conditions. On the other hand German fulfills obviously the criteria of a world language. And the semi-protection of the article is a further sign that you need to protect your theses against the truth. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:43, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

I'm not trying to take any sides here, in fact, I think your points are perfectly valid. All I'm saying is that these need to be backed up and verified with reliable sources. I don't take any interest in the subject at all.--Tærkast (Communicate) 16:11, 31 March 2011 (UTC)
  • sigh* let's get German out of this discussion. a) lingua franca? hasn't been since the end of the Cold War b) community not along ethnic lines? yeah, a few ethnic Turks, but who else? c) widely taught? sources please d) international organizations? if at all, confined to Europe e) academic use? not anymore, even German scientists publish in English Choyoołʼįįhí:Seb az86556 > haneʼ 18:11, 31 March 2011 (UTC)

Stupid provocations. which have nothing to do with the reality, are not provided in the code of Wikipedia. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:49, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

No, but what is in the "code" is assuming good faith (one of the most important), making no attacks, contributing constructively with reliable sources for the benefit of Wikipedia. Oh, and adhering to a neutral point of view.--Tærkast (Communicate) 11:44, 2 April 2011 (UTC)

It would be useful to teach Seb az86556, CanadianLinuxUser and Elockid something about a neutral point of view. This could bring a substantial contribution to the credibility of Wikipedia. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:11, 2 April 2011 (UTC)

the table with the world languages is missing, to my mind, very important columns[edit]

these columns are called:

  1. number of professionals in respective language groups (sub-table could desplay professionals: scientists, artists, academia, sportsmen/women, etc., politicians - their numbers, their NATIVE tongue(s), their 2nd language(s) [which, by definition mean: almost as fluent as native, BUT fluent in their field of expertise, as they create the words in their fields], their 3rd languages (not used in professional field, maybe infrequently used, badly known in spoken, a bit better in understanding, a lot better in written or the best in understanding, worse in written, worse in spoken or ...)
  2. number of written sources in respective language groups/groups of dialects/groups of languages (e.g. en, cn, ar, es, fr, de, indo-aryan, ru, pt), the main thing being books
    1. maybe even a subtable for books on diff. topics: science, art, religion, etc., politics
    2. internet, as its text-based, therefore, also, language based
    3. other, like religious texts (eps. Koran, as it's supposed to be read in Arabic, not the translated one; therefore encouraging devout Muslims to learn Arabic in order to understand the true meaning which is lost in translation[2])
  3. number of ppl in world languages on the route to become the professionals
  4. number of the aforementioned ppl (point 3) who know more than 1 language, esp.:
    1. 2 or more mother-tongues
    2. 2 or more 2nd languages (almost as fluent as mother tongues in their area of expertise-to-come)
    3. other-level languages
  5. Last, but not least, the policies of the countries/special language promoting groups/ppl/entrepreneurs/rich ppl/poor ppl/money transfers which guide the rise & fall of the languages: how coordinated each group is, how well established the group is, how... {add your own!}
  6. other... (if you come up with smth, add here, just, sign your name, please!)

Kazkaskazkasako (talk) 20:58, 23 January 2009 (UTC)

Other super-regional languages[edit]

The table Other super-regional languages has two parts (the second part starting from Persian). What is the reason?--Xashaiar (talk) 18:28, 26 June 2009 (UTC)

All right, the current "list of world languages" looks very strange. Obviously everybody is trying to squeeze his/her own language inside that list. I guess the six UN official languages should be there and the rest in the list of "Other super-regional languages".--Xashaiar (talk) 22:25, 4 July 2009 (UTC)
Presuming the UN languages are 'world languages' is original research. It is more likely that the UN languages are chosen based on speaking population size, not world language characteristics. I don't understand how a language can be considered to be a world language when it is only spoken in 1 continent by closely related countries/ethnicities (e.g. Urdu&Hindi and Chinese/Mandarin). They are continental or sub-continental languages not world languages. Clearly languages like English, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic and French belong in their own category as world languages in the truest sense of actually being officially used around the 'world'. This page should either only include these languages or put them in a separate category as multicontinental languages.Utopial (talk) 15:33, 19 September 2009 (UTC)
What you said certainly applies to Japanese and Bengali, within their nation states of Japan and Bangladesh. But if that's the case that the UN languages are purely chosen based on speaking population size (and frankly, your suggestion sounds like original research to me), then why didn't they choose Hindi as a world language back in the day, given how India was already known to be a densely populated country, and today we now know it is second only to China when it comes to sheer population size and presumably an equally staggering number of native or second language speakers? Arabic was actually added later as a UN official language. Why did they do that? Why weren't Japanese or Bengali chosen either, since it was known that they already had a subtantial number of speakers back in the day? Granted, I can understand and see your point that, if you say that Hindi and Urdu on their own can't and shouldn't be properly considered a world language. But you should understand the cultural, historical and linguistic context behind why Hindi and Urdu are often considered to be two aspects of the same language (Hindustani), being largely mutually intelligible but only distinguished by political reasons and the fact that each use a different script from the other, before you write it off. It is arguably the most important language and lingua franca in the Indian subcontinent, when you consider how staggeringly different and diverse the countless ethnic, linguistic and cultural communities residing in the region who bear little to no relation with each other from a proper anthropological PoV. Mandarin, much like Arabic and Persian has a long unbroken tradition since the heyday of the Chinese Empire, was in fact the lingua franca for much of the East Asian and Southeast Asian region much like Latin and Greek were within their golden ages. It was only in the 19-20th century that it declined alongside the failing Chinese Empire, but unlike Greek and Persian, it's quickly regaining its former status and perhaps exceed it.
The UN languages were indeed chosen for their supra-regional importance, whether it is because it enjoys extensive use as a language of discourse (diplomatic, commerce, social, cultural significance etc), or because it is the lingua franca of one or more sovereign states which are considered major, significant political entities on the world stage, and to a lesser extent within their region. Like English and French, Russian went from a language spoken exclusively within the historical Russian Empire border, expanded into the greater Soviet Union region and would have rivalled the status that English and French enjoys had the Soviet bloc gained global dominance, and now it is a lingua franca amongst states who have little to no common with each other, other then that they are succeeding states of the former Soviet Union. It is a bit ignorant to suggest that everyone in the former Soviet Union, Indian subcontinent and the Chinese-speaking world are "closely related countries/ethnicities", even if the official language of a particular nation an individual resides in is considered a second language or lingua to that person, and not what would normally be spoken within his or her own ethnic community.
One can argue that if we're disqualifying the aforementioned languages following your reasoning, then Portuguese shouldn't even be considered a proper world language as such, merely a multicontinental language by circumstance. It isn't even being used *that* much around the *world*, does not have the prestige and extensive use languages like English, French etc possess in the global stage, its supra-regional influence is merely because of the fact that its speakers consist of Portugal, a massive, populous nation in Brazil, and a few other small (and politically insignificant) former Portuguese colonies in Africa and Asia, which happen to be spaced quite far from each other on different continents. And these days, who learns German (and who aren't already from German-speaking Europe) just to pursue a higher education in the field of engineering anyway? But they are still considered world languages because of the significance, prestige and sheer number of speakers they retain, just like Mandarin, Russia, German, and by a stretch, Hindustani. And since there are massive Chinese and Indian diaspora communities entrenched in countless nations around the world today, descended from cheap labour which followed the expansion of Western imperialism much like how the European languages travelled and become disporportionately more important then their geographical boundaries and population size would suggest.....
Haleth (talk) 14:33, 22 September 2009 (UTC)
It is original research to make a link between 'UN language' and 'world language'. Until reliable sources are provided to establish this link, this cannot be used as justification. Forget my opinion, forget your opinion, provide evidence. You need to address this point.
Also, Mandarin Chinese is the official language in just 1-2 countries (depending on if Taiwan is included in the country defined as China) and the non-main non-national co-official language in Singapore, so it fails the criteria for being spoken in 'several' countries (several being defined by wiktionary as more than 2). Just like Japanese & Bengali, it clearly isn't geographically distributed to the extent that the use of the words 'world' & 'mandarin' together is reductio ad absurdum. Btw, Bengali is the 2nd most spoken & official language in India and has official status in Sierra Leonne - it doesn't have a 'nation state' of Bangladesh.
Ethnic groups can be defined at various levels (like language families) - for instance you can break up Finnish people into numerous groups and continue breaking those up based on other characteristics, as can be done with people in Spain. Mandarin speakers all fall into the 'Chinese people' category with none coming from other major ethnic groups, unlike English which is spoken by Indians, East Asians(Singapore), various African ethnicities, Caucasians, etc. Bengali speakers are more 'ethnically' diverse than Mandarin speakers (and I would classify both as not being ethnically diverse). Hindustani speakers are ethnically diverse so i agree that the argument doesnt work here (dravidians vs caucasians/aryans + others), as with Russians (tartars vs caucasians).
Big language =/= world language. There are other pages for that.Utopial (talk) 04:34, 23 September 2009 (UTC)

look, this just boils down to, we need better sources. You will be able to call even the most obvious points "original research" as long as no source is given, so, let's go and find some, as this discussion is completely futile until we have something to base it on. Since, you will agree, your observations are just as "OR" as the material they are supposed to criticize.

Pending the addition of better sources, here is a decent German language one, it is an online publication, but from a reputable source (Fischer Verlag Weltalmanach). The definition of Weltsprache goes like this,

natural languages which are used well beyond the national sphere, spoken by a significant number of non-native speakers for communication in trade, admninistration, diplomacy and science.

A list of historical world languages is given:

Babylonian, Old Aramaic, Koine Greek, Latin, Arabic, Sanskrit, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English, French, Russian.

As current Verkehrssprachen (corresponding to our 'supra-regional languages'),

worldwide: English, Spanish, Portuguese, French.
not extending significantly beyond their native sphere: Chinese, Hindi, Arabic, Russian, Bengali, Malay, German, Japanese

I argue that this dovetails well enough with our article here to establish that we aren't indulging in "original research".

So, if we follow the Weltalmanach, we have a number of historical world languages, which include Chinese, Arabic, Russian and Dutch for colonial times, but in the present era of globalization, we only have four languages that have managed to maintain true "world language" status, English, Spanish, Portuguese and French. The Weltalmanach would list Chinese, Arabic, Russian and German together with Hindi, Bengali and Malay as merely "supra-regional". But of course this is a sliding scale, and our mileage may well vary if we consult other sources. --dab (𒁳) 09:26, 25 September 2009 (UTC)

Dbachmann, I agree - let's keep this sourced & simple. I started by merely calling for sources since so much is OR (and tagged the article for OR & citations). The discussions on this have spiraled into out of control OR opinionated claims and virtually any language can be claimed as a world language (Italian meets all the criteria if you are loose enough). I agree with using your source (it doesn't exactly concur with my original opinion but my opinion is irrelevant).Utopial (talk) 05:37, 26 September 2009 (UTC)


An anonymous user with the ip removed German from the list of world language (but, curiously, "forgot" (?) to include it in the list of supra-regional languages) with the reason that Japanese isn't a world language either. That is of course complete nonsense. Japanese is not a world language because it's official in but one country and virtually all its speakers are native speakers, thus failing the criteria mentioned in the article. German is official or co-official in seven countries, has a significant proportion of non-native speakers, and also fulfills all the other criteria. As this user seems to be either biased or incompetent, I undid his edits except his removal of the list of standard registers. I leave it to the community to decide whether this is important or not.

For the records: German IS a world language, and all of you contributors are encouraged to immediately undo any removal of it from the list. MarcoF (talk) 11:42, 4 July 2009 (UTC)

Do you know that every 10th book worldwide is published in German? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:50, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

According to in 2010 the number of people learning German as a foreign language on all of the world’s continents totaled 14,042,789. In many South American countries the statistics show that the future for German as a foreign language looks positive. Thus German is not only a language of supra-regional importance (as specified in the article), but it is clearly a de facto world language. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:36, 9 March 2011 (UTC)

The number of non-native speakers of German is ca. 80 million ( —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:45, 2 April 2011 (UTC)
German has at least 98 million native speakers (Marten, Thomas; Sauer, Fritz Joachim, eds. (2005) (in German). Länderkunde - Deutschland, Österreich, Schweiz und Liechtenstein im Querschnitt [Regional Geography - An Overview of Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein]. Berlin: Inform-Verlag. p. 7.), as it is a regional mother tongue in many European countries as well as to a rather big extend in Namibia and Brazil, to a samller in Argentina, Chile, South Africa, the U.S. and Canada. To say 100 million wouldn't be exaggerating either. (talk) 12:21, 6 July 2012 (UTC)
German in South America is nothing more than a scam. In Brazil, most of the so called German speakers are not speakers of Hochdeutsch, but of creole dialects (Hunsrückisch, Katarinensisch, Pomoranische). Even the law acknowledges these differences ( and refer to them as germanic dialects, not German. Every of those dialects have so much Portuguese influence (to let alone different nouns) that a non-native Hochdeutsch speaker would most probable find them unintelligible. The situation is about the same in Paraguay (most mennonite settlers). Regarding Namibia, while German is a noticeable minority language, the country population is so scarce that they don't represent more than a few tens of thousands. German is very popular in Europe, but most German speakers everywhere else are foreign languages enthusiasts. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:36, 12 August 2015 (UTC)

Orphaned references in World language[edit]

I check pages listed in Category:Pages with incorrect ref formatting to try to fix reference errors. One of the things I do is look for content for orphaned references in wikilinked articles. I have found content for some of World language's orphans, the problem is that I found more than one version. I can't determine which (if any) is correct for this article, so I am asking for a sentient editor to look it over and copy the correct ref content into this article.

Reference named "encarta":

I apologize if any of the above are effectively identical; I am just a simple computer program, so I can't determine whether minor differences are significant or not. AnomieBOT 02:34, 23 September 2009 (UTC)


Here's the information I have compiled so far from dab's, Haleth's and my own research on what a world language is and which languages fall into this category:

World Language: "natural languages which are used well beyond the national sphere, spoken by a significant number of non-native speakers for communication in trade, administration, diplomacy and science."

Historical world languages: Babylonian, Old Aramaic, Koine Greek, Latin, Arabic, Sanskrit, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English, French, Russian.

As current:

World languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, French.
Supra-regional languages ("not extending significantly beyond their native sphere"): Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Arabic, Russian, Bengali, Malay, German, Japanese

International/World Language: "high prestige, majority languages used as a means of communication between different countries using different languages"

English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Arabic, Russian, Chinese (all types)

De Mejía Power, prestige, and bilingualism References the Baker & Jones book to define and list the languages.

"four categories of language: world languages, intercontinental in what they encompass; regional languages, which are international but not intercontinental; national languages, which are enclosed within the boundaries of particular states; and communal languages, which include a variety of subnational tongues."

"A world language is one which, first, has today at least a hundred million speakers; second, is the official language of at least ten states; and third, has spread beyond its own continent in a major way. ... The world languages at the moment are, by our definition, English, French and perhaps Spanish. All the other languages of the world belong to the other categories, although Portuguese is on its way towards commanding the 100 million speakers which would qualify it."

This was written in 1976 and Portuguese now meets this requirement.

Russian, Arabic and Chinese (not sure if this is Mandarin or all) are listed as regional languages.

"By the term world languages approximately the following can be understood: Firstly, languages that meet the requirement of the greatest possible distribution outside their area where they are spoken as national languages. Among these there are at present English, French, Spanish and Russian. Secondly, international planned languages (Esperanto...)"

To summarise:

World: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Supra-regional: Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Arabic, Russian, Bengali, Malay, German, Japanese
  • Baker & Jones
World: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Dutch, Arabic, Russian, Chinese (all types)
Supra-regional: ignores this concept.
World: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Supra-regional: Arabic, Chinese (?), Russian
  • Ulrich Ammon
World: English, French, Spanish, Russian
Supra-regional: ignores this concept.

From this it is clear that some sources are stricter than others, which is why they have a supra-regional category. Due to this, I suggest we break the world languages table into two parts:

1. Introduced as 'strict definitions of world language include the following' and display a table with English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian

2. 'Other sources include the following languages as world languages, whilst stricter sources list them as merely supra-regional languages' and display a table with Chinese (Mandarin), Arabic, Dutch, German

Let me know what you think. Utopial (talk) 10:42, 28 September 2009 (UTC)

well done -- please do go ahead, you did the work so you get to decide how to arrange the material. --dab (𒁳) 11:20, 28 September 2009 (UTC)

Ok done. Two things I think left to do with this article:
1. The language counts are wrong/inconsistent. They should all be taken from ethnologue/encarta consistently, irrespective of if you think their numbers are too high/low. I would do it but the List of languages by number of native speakers looks like it's been defaced and is going through some kind of editing war.
2. Add a few references to the intro and perhaps condense. Also add in Dutch.
Update: I fixed up the native numbers using the 2009 ethnologue estimates (even tho everyone agrees they systematically underestimate for every language). I was going to do it for the supra-regional languages but then i saw ethnologue has just 180+60m for hindustani! Being consistent is one thing. But i just can't put that number into Wiki. It's plainly wrong. We still need total language speakers from a consistent source (is encarta just natives or totals?)

Utopial (talk) 13:46, 28 September 2009 (UTC)

Wow, you've done a ton of work on the article! If I have said anything offensive or impolite towards your work, I apologize and take that back.

My personal opinion is that en carta/ethnologue isn't particularly reliable either. The data shown there may or may not to correspond with the current trends in population and language growth, as well as shifting or changing cultural trends in some countries, and I won't be surprised if some of the data they have listed is very much outdated. But likewise, it is widely known, and repeated via that quotatations, that total number of speakers/native speakers are only rough estimates at best. Try looking at the wiki entries for the individual languages and the countries in which they are primarily spoken, and see if you can find citations backing the numbers, which may lead to some reliable sources or even the online version of the census stats published by governments. Take this for example from the Ethnologue article: 206,000,000 L1 speakers of all Arabic varieties (Wiesenfeld 1999), even though the Ethnologue page did say it is last updated this year. So, is Ethnologue saying that their data for the total speakers of Arabic is based on the source given by Wiesenfield which is 10 years old??

Likewise with French, not everyone in the African francophone countries even know or understand any French, let alone fluent users (which seem to almost always comprise of the educated and the elite, keeping in mind the trend of low literacy rates in those countries). 700 million total speakers for French seems to be a reasonable number if people (rightfully) assume that the entire populations of every country that has French has an official language, when it doesn't correlate with literacy rates and the context of what social strata French is actually widely used in.

I think the current estimates for Hindu + Urdu is about right (excluding the South Indians, Bengalis, Pakistani tribal peoples and other ethnic groups who simply refuse or don't see a point to learn or master any Hindi to communicate with other peoples in their respective home regions, and has no reason to learn it if they're not engaged with dealings on a federal level outside of the state that doesn't also have the option of using English instead). Maybe trying to locate the most recent census data that took place in India (and other languages that only has a mere supra-regional reach, which should be easy as it's easier to narrow it all down) would be the best option?

A brief comment on Ali Mazrui. I find that his reasonings doesn't really concur with my opinion, since the criteria seems to only consider potential candidates of world languages in terms of sheer quantity (at least the quote you gave which is taken from the book) without going over other important criteria such as influence, i.e a criteria of ranking being with the most number of countries/states which accord it official status, I don't see how it's any different from someone doing a ranking according to the highest number of speakers for each language. And I feel that it being written in 1975 means the data within today's context would be considered outdated anyway, considering the drastic socio-political changes all over the world that has taken place within the last few decades.

Anyway, I suppose it's good to have another source to look to which offers a somewhat different perspective from the other sources. Going by his reasonings as well, I suppose you can also include Arabic under his strict interpretation of his term since it does fulfill his top three key criteria by now, and if not widely used as lingua franca outside of North Africa and the Middle East Asian region, at least you can be sure that the religious leaders and scholars of the Muslim world all have at least some proficiency in Arabic (in its classical form), as it is a living language that serves a liturgical purpose.

And can I also request that the Chinese entry to be named as simply "Chinese" for the purposes of this article, because as far as I know, most international sources don't specifically name the variety of Chinese language they recognize as "Mandarin" (which does leave a degree of ambiguity), and the entire Chinese language group has only one standard written register anyway (from which all Chinese language varieties and dialect groups are expressed, much like Egyptian Arabic and other mutually unintelligible Arabic dialects are written using the Modern Standard Arabic register), whereas Dutch/Afrikaans, Malay/Indonesian and Hindi/Urdu all have at least two standard registers, but again for the purposes of this article are grouped together as they are considered sister languages. Notwithstanding the opinions of certain linguists and Sinologists, the majority opinion amongst Chinese people as a whole consider their regional languages to be "dialects" of a single "language", as part of a diverse but somewhat cohesive ethnic and cultural identity. Haleth (talk) 00:53, 29 September 2009 (UTC)

Ethnologue might be easier and is at least consistent for the moment - at least for native speakers. I guess we can rely on a mixture of other sources for 'total speakers'.
I remember reading about language classification recently:
  • Linguists generally distinguish the terms "language" and "dialects" on the basis of 'mutual comprehension'.
  • An opposite example is the case of Chinese, whose variations such as Mandarin and Cantonese are often considered dialects and not languages, despite their mutual unintelligibility, because the word for them in mandarin, "Fangyan", was mistranslated as dialect because it meant regional speech.
So the language 'mandarin' is incorrectly referred to as a dialect by Chinese people and the chinese language family is incorrectly referred to as a 'language'.
Perhaps you noticed that I also changed spanish to 'castilian spanish'. I did this for the same reason as changing chinese to 'mandarin chinese'. It would be like calling hindi 'indian' - disrespectful to the other languages of india to say the least.
Outside of those cultures, the simple terms 'spanish' and 'chinese' are used. Hindi has somehow escaped such ignorance, perhaps because of 400 years of English education/colonialisation. In the spanish languages (including castilian spanish itself), castilian spanish is almost never referred to as 'spanish/español' but called 'castilian/castellano'. Speakers of valencian, catalan, galician, etc would be insulted to have their languages overlooked in this way. I'd imagine it would be the same with speakers of wu, cantonese etc. Sure, they are part of the same language family, but mutually unintelligible languages should be distinguished from one another. Writing system generally isn't used to determine if a system of communication qualifies as a dialect, language or language group (e.g. most languages use the latin/roman alphabet, but are classified as separate languages, not just 'Latin' - even asian languages e.g. pinyin & romaji). Japanese uses the chinese writing system but is classified as entirely unrelated to the Chinese language family in any way.
Overall, I think the extra detail doesn't hurt and hopefully the world moves towards the educated stance of actually calling languages by their real names. (most of the sources did give away that by chinese they meant mandarin and by spanish they meant castilian). And to be honest, when I see 'Chinese' I get confused as to if that means mandarin or everything in the chinese language family. Your point about the way in which most international organisations, etc just say 'Chinese' is well taken though. Perhaps we should change it from 'Mandarin Chinese' to 'Chinese (Mandarin)'. Minor revision but it covers off both current actual usage of the term in merely saying 'Chinese' but also specifies the actual language to avoid confusion.Utopial (talk) 05:10, 29 September 2009 (UTC)

Absolutely. A fairly accurate estimate of native speakers is easier to work out. Native speakers of a particular language would identify themselves as such in a national census, and it's not difficult to procure that sort of data. Total speakers, in one sense would require some lateral thinking other then pure stats, because you just never know how many people out there are at least proficient with more then one of the world languages listed. I guess someone came up with the 700 million speakers for French, again, because they probably assume that every person living in a country with French as the official language are proficient with that language. That isn't the case of course, and context is very important when coming up with a rough estimate. And context as well, particularly of the socio-political kind, is also important when we talk about common naming conventions for languages.

You are correct, if this article is about classification of languages in a stricter sense, is concerned with the scientific research of professional linguists, and what should be called a dialect and what should be called a language variant. It's easy if we're comparing two languages within a nation which are widely accepted to be from different language families altogether, like Castilian (Indo-European, Ibero-Romance) vs Basque (language isolate), or Hindi (Indo-European, Indo Aryan) vs Tamil (Dravidian). But I think I need to mention an important point there: Europeans as a whole, aren't nearly as coherent nor do they share a notion of being a cohesive political and cultural region compared to the Chinese, the Arab World, or even the Latin Americans, in spite of objective evidence to the contrary that many European groups in fact share similar cultural, historical and linguistic roots. Nationalism and the whole "I am anything but like my neighbour" mentality still seems to be a big part of the regional psyche, contrary to objective scientific evidence that many peoples in Europe for example, are of Germanic ancestry and the languages they speak belong to the Germanic family. Serbians, Croatians and Bosniaks insisted they were ethnically and linguistically distinct although many communities had a long history of intermarriage dating back way before Yugoslavia was founded. Mention anything to a Catalan person that their language or culture isn't all that different from the Castilians (they are, but I'm emphasizing on their similar linguistic roots as Iberian Romance languages), you can expect them to come out with their guns blazing as they usually do about why they are anything but Spanish in name only, and I witnessed that first hand. Mention even that the Spanish and Portuguese languages (of the European variety) are similar enough as they are still mutually intelligible to a considerable degree, and I bet some people will spit fire and be up their arms about why they are both different. In fact, as soon as someone from the EU announce that they will finally come up with a decision to designate a single official language for EU very soon, you can expect to see lots of hot air puffing from the member states in the aftermath. Joking aside, the languages you've mentioned belong to minority groups who are concentrated in the autonomous regions of multiethnic Spain, who do not consider themselves to belong to the majority Castilian ethnic group. That is not the case with the Han Chinese, who share a belief in belonging to a single ethnic and cultural identity, yet speak a bewildering range of languages/dialects that may have little in common with each other.

Cantonese and Mandarin are not really mutually intelligible as they both have different (but not that radically different) pronunciations and vocabulary. And no native speaker of these two varieties of Chinese can possibly understand the Hokkien or Wu varieties unless you learn these dialects as if they are separate languages from Cantonese or Mandarin. It is said that even in the province of Fujian (Hokkien) itself, a village can't understand the speech of the next village which is a mere 100 miles away. But again, that's why I've brought out up a similar situation with the Arabic language several times. The Arabic used in the Arab Union and usually designated as an official language is Modern Standard Arabic, a standard register. But "Arabic" in reality differ very widely from each other and the many different varieties are often not mutually intelligible with each other: Maghrebi Arabic, to Egyptian Arabic, to Yemeni Arabic, to the varieties in Saudi Arabia and the adjacent region. Take the Egyptians for example, they've been around for a long time and people at large are highly aware that they had an indigenously-developed and highly advanced culture and society long before the Arab armies arrived in Egypt. Egyptian Arabic appears to be a fused amalgam of both the Arabic (an Afro-Asiatic Semitic language) brought to Egypt by Arab conquerors during the Islamic golden age, and the Coptic language (an Afro-Asiatic language that has little relation with the Semitic branch), the so-called final stage of the ancient Egyptian language spoken by indigenous Egyptians. Maghrebi Arabic also has widely heterogenous origins, this time of Berber linguistic roots fused with Arabic, and so on. To top it off, the Arabic used in the Quran and as liturgical language is somewhat different altogether: Classical Arabic. By contrast, the Austrians will adamantly stress that they are not Germans, even though most of them are culturally and ethnically Germans who speak a standard language variety of the same name.

As for Castilian is also the Spanish language variety that is spoken throughout much of South America, and the South Americans understandably don't make a distinction between the terms Castilian and Spanish. People outside of Spain don't make a distinction between the synonymous terms "Spanish" or "Castilian" when referring to the language, the Spanish government hasn't done anything to discourage people from using "Spanish" and use Castilian either. I suppose you can also name it "Castilian or Spanish" or "Castilian/Spanish", but I'm pretty sure the specific definition is made because of strongly vocal divisions over politically correct naming conventions within Spain itself though, and in practice it seems to be only used in Spain itself. Calling Hindi "Indian" (which is a technically incorrect term by itself, it's like calling English spoken by the people of USA "American" and by the people of UK "British") might rile up the Dravidian peoples from South India as demonstrated by historical events, but your presumption that most Indians will take it as offensive or disrespectful, while certainly based on good well-placed intentions may not be the case, and perhaps a Eurocentric PoV in a way that you're basing it upon what you know about cultural and linguisitic disputes in European countries like Spain, and expect the same to apply anywhere else. In spite of political tensions and the complicated history between India and Pakistan, the term "Hindustani" still occurs occasionally in modern usage, and calling Hindi and Urdu "sister languages" (but making a point as them being separate languages regardless) is not all that controversial in South Asian circles. They use two completely different scripts and writing systems, but are still grouped together for the purposes of this article in the context of the well-established Hindustani term. You can imagine the outcry if one gives Spanish and Portuguese, languages which still have a considerable degree of mutual intelligibility, a similar treatment in front of a native speaking audience of these respectively languages.

And to address a few more things: The writing system(s) Japanese uses is uniquely Japanese, much like the Korean language (which is a language isolate but has many loanwords from Chinese). I won't go into detail on why they are so vastly different from each other, you'll have to look it up yourself. Yes Japanese borrowed some characters from the old Classical Chinese writing system, which is an evidence of residual signs of Chinese influence, I can recognize some of it and often it does imply a certain meaning that I understand as corresponding to the same word used in Chinese writing. But I can't stress it enough that the Japanese language doesn't use the Chinese writing system, and the Chinese characters certainly wouldn't be pronounced the same way a Japanese speaker would, the way I and many others would say it in Mandarin/Cantonese. Classical Chinese is to Latin what the Sinic-influenced languages of East Asia are to the various Romance languages, except that Classical Chinese is a still living language which became the modern Chinese macrolanguage with Mandarin as the standard register.

But speaking from a Chinese perspective, a Han Chinese person from a Chinese province may have a highly regional spirit that can even rival that of the Italians, and other then favourite topics like their local way of life and local cuisine will also make an effort to explain the differences between their regional native tongue and the Standard Register that is Mandarin, but they won't think of themselves or their language to be any less "Chinese". Mandarin is referred to in Chinese as 官话 ("speech of the officials") and in common usage 普通话 ("common speech"), while the general term of "Chinese language" is either referred to as 汉语 (“speech of the Hans") or more commonly as a synonymous term with its unified writing system 中文, and 中文 or zhong wen is the term that is being used internationally, whether on official documents, in education systems and schools outside of China to describe a unified Chinese language with Mandarin taught as the standard register, and as the label for the Mandarin Chinese version of this article to your left. For that matter, we do refer to each of the regional dialects as 方言, literally "regional speech". Check the regional dialect's Chinese version, and you'll see that this character 方言 is the name of that article, it is a well-established description to the concept of language dialects amongst Chinese speakers. So notwithstanding opinions by some linguists, and because there is no universally accepted criteria for distinguishing language from dialect anyway, I can't see how it is wrongfully translated in any way.

The languages or dialects spoken between Arabs or Han Chinese from different countries or provinces may have little to not mutually intelligibility, but with very few and often controversial exceptions (notably the Egyptians, there can be a whole book written on the subject of their ethnic, cultural and linguistic identity as of today), generally they share a strong sentiment of historical unity, as well as a unified and written tradition. The Austrians, the Balkan folk and the various Spanish provinces and minority groups, indeed much of Europe probably don't feel the same way towards other related ethnic groups or languages. You also can't compare the Greater Indian civilization to the Han Chinese or Arab equivalent in this regard, because modern-day Indians haven't shared a notion of historical and political unity that isn't imposed upon them by an invading foreign power (the Mughals weren't indigenously South Asian, they were of Persian origin). Perhaps with the exception of the Maurya Empire under Ashoka and the Pala Empire to an extent. India for much of its ancient history, before the arrivals of the Mughals and the British, usually comprised of culturally and linguistically diverse kingdoms and regional empires which rarely had territory that encompassed and unified the entire subcontinent. The only thing that consistently united these disparate sovereign states in a sense, was religion and the use of Sanskrit.

Anyway, I don't think this article is meant to be about dividing mutually intelligible languages along strict lines (you might want to check the pluricentric language wiki entry for more info, it's on the page). T/he standard registers of Standard Mandarin and Modern Standard Arabic are never specifically referred to as the definite Chinese or Arabic language by international organizations for official purposes, although in practice they would be being the standard registers of their respective languages. One can say perhaps this ambiguity arises out of ignorance by outsiders, but perhaps the people themselves, the native speakers, don't see it that way? Isn't that an expression of their right to self-determination as a people? If the Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks so defiantly assert that each of their mutually intelligible native languages as so distinct from each other beyond all reasonable doubt, what choice does the international community have but acknowledge their claims? Contrast that to the gesture of goodwill, when the President of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono publicly referred to the Malays, their culture and their language as "sama rumpun" (literally "of the same grass") as his own, a concept that is well known and acknowledged in both Malaysia and Indonesia, and consider that Malay and Indonesian are and should be classified as separate languages in an academic sense. How can one compel today's Latin American peoples to refer to their native tongue as "Castilian", even though they have always known it within their living memory as the rather ambiguous term, "Spanish"? I think it is up to individual people to find out the exact or real names of a language for themselves. If they are too lazy to find out for themselves that the official language of Cambodia is not "Cambodian" but Khmer, then too bad. The knowledge and information is out there, if only they would bother to look for it. Haleth (talk) 19:09, 30 September 2009 (UTC)


Are you kiding me. There are more than 350 million people has arabic as their native language. Arabic is in the second place after Chinese. Fix that. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:30, 10 October 2009 (UTC)

This is about what sources say. Hindustani has a huge number of speakers too but isn't defined by any sources as a world language. Strict sources define just english, french, spanish, portuguese and russian as world languages. less strict sources include the few listed others (including Arabic). This is clearly described and cited in the article. Arabic is a world language in the broad sense according to some sources, but not in the strict sense according to other sources.Utopial (talk) 07:04, 22 October 2009 (UTC)
Arabic is indeed second after Chinese on the broader category column. Both, along with German and Dutch, are simply more limited in terms of "language space" compared to the others. I don't know what you're so livid about? Haleth (talk) 04:13, 6 November 2009 (UTC)

Chinese a World Language?[edit]

Someone moved Chinese from the second chart up to the main one... above English! If they can justify this according to the criteria given for what counts as a world language, then it will be fine to stay, but if the only thing they can come up with is that there are a load more Chinese folk than English folk, then I am going to change it back to the way it was.

The list is not merely to indicate total number of speakers; it ranks languages according to a number of criteria, among which are the political and economic 'power' of a language and the degree to which the language is utilized in an international sense. In the map of every other language listed, including the formerly-listed German, the linguistic communities indicated span at least two continents. Chinese's map, on the other hand, shows its main distribution as centered in south-east Asia—not international by any modern sense whatsoever.Bearnfæder (talk) 12:57, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

As you can see in the arabic section above, we constantly have people deciding to impose their opinions on the article rather than those of reliable sources. I suspect that it's largely to do with ego and people trying to get 'their' language in the list as high as possible as if it proves something (personally im more attracted to and 'impressed' by specialised, unique small languages). unless it has a reliable source, it doesnt belong in wikipedia. Utopial (talk) 12:01, 1 November 2009 (UTC)

So Bearnfæder, your point is? I'm with the other editors here, I am perfectly happy with the two separate classifications here, strict or broad sense. If you see anyone trying to merge both of the columns back together again, by all means revert the edit. According to statistics, Russian should have a larger number of total speakers compared to Portuguese, hence it is ranked above the latter based on that. But your rant about how Chinese shouldn't even be considered a "world language" even in a broad sense, and then using the same criteria you mentioned to back up why it isn't, is kind of moot. The criteria you spoke of, are things languages like Chinese and Arabic happen to have in spades because of the political and economic influence their native speaking bases wield today. There was a reason why Arabic was granted UN official status shortly after the 1973 oil crisis, why with each passing year more and more people around the world are flocking to learn Chinese, and Japanese would have seen more international use today had the Japanese economy not stalled by the 1990's. Do more research, beyond mere statistics (which is what we have been lampooning the language contest supporters) and a Eurocentric worldview, and tell me I am wrong. German has followed the German diaspora wherever it went much like Chinese has (and both have very big global diaspora populations), and much like China its native language base is largely confined to continental Europe. In the only country outside of Europe that grants it some kind of official recognition - Namibia - German is about as relevant there as Spanish in the Philippines, Portuguese in Macau, or Dutch in Indonesia. Dutch's linguistic community (and by extension Afrikaans) base, as you can see, literally spans 3 or even 4 continents if you count Indonesia. But you can't be seriously grouping them alongside English, Spanish, Russian, French, or Portuguese, to put down Chinese, can you? And no, the distribution isn't particularly concentrated in Southeast Asia. Get your facts right. Haleth (talk) 04:10, 6 November 2009 (UTC)


Someone listed Quechua sometime ago, but should it be on the page in the first place? It's nice to know that there is another notable lingua franca besides Spanish and Portuguese that transcends ethnic lines and national borders in South America. Though it is recognized as official in 2 countries, according to Ethnologue it has a measly 10+ million native speakers, and any given figure of total speakers would barely crack 12 million if at all since it sees negligible use outside of the native-speaking communities. Even though Hausa doesn't seem to have much in terms official recognition like Swahili from what I can find, it is known as an important trade language that transcends borders and ethnicites in West and Central Africa, and has a sizeable speaking population. Haleth (talk) 04:27, 6 November 2009 (UTC)

Quechua may be a lingua franca, but it isn't a "world language" candidate. Or if it is let's see some sources. dab (𒁳) 18:50, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

Simplified world languages map[edit]


Main world languages.png

this map can be added ?

KVDP (talk) 11:02, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

I like it in principle, but the legend needs clarification. Does "secondary language" mean "official language but not the majority language"? Then there is a problem, it appears only for Canada was the effort made to indicate a subnational majority. I also doubt that for most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa which are given a solid colour the language indicated is in fact a majority language. --dab (𒁳) 19:11, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

Yeh the principle of having everything covered off by 1 map is good, but there are two issues that come to mind. 1st is that some places like canada/quebec have both french and english, so which colour does the region get shaded? stripes? 2nd is that what is important for being a 'world language' is that it has some kind of official status as this indicates usage in science, administration, trade, literature, etc.Utopial (talk) 10:55, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

I suppose the map can only show the language's official status, by country, or if possible by regional subdivision. The country gets a "solid" colour if the language in question is the majority language, and it gets a "light" colour if there is a "world language" with official status besides a majority language that is not itself a "world language". Such a map would be objective, but it will be quite some work to get there. Consider Switzerland, which would need to be coloured by canton. Or if we stick to "by country", Canada will be "solid English" just as Switzerland is already painted "solid German". And what will we do with cases like Chad ("solid French" in the map above), which has both French and Arabic as official languages, of which, however, neither can qualify as majority language. "Striped light Arabic/French" after all? Nice, but you'll be busy for about ten hours before the map is ready. --dab (𒁳) 10:33, 17 December 2009 (UTC)

Forget sub-national shading, the national shading is wildly inaccurate:
  • German as a second language in Austria, where it first language of ~90% of the population?
  • German as a second language in Poland (English and Russian are more spoken [4]) ?
  • Arabic as a second language in Turkey?
  • English as a second language in Iceland, but not in (say) Norway, Denmark or the Netherlands?
  • English not mentioned in Pakistan where it has official status, but is mentioned in Japan?
  • Russian a second language in Belarus, where Russian is official and the main language for >70% of the population?
  • Russian a second language in Finland (spoken by 2% of population; cf 63% speaking English [5])?
  • No mention of Russian in Lithuania (80% with some knowledge [6]), or in Kaliningrad Oblast?
  • No mention of the 88% speaking English in Malta?
  • Russian a second language in Kazakhstan but not Kyrgyzstan, where it is official?
  • French Guiana as Portuguese? (The clue's in the name...)
  • Suriname and Guyana as Spanish-speaking?
....and I doubt that's an exhaustive list.
I don't know the academic credentials of "Het menselijk ras" or "Wolters algemene wereldatlas", but this map has little basis in linguistic reality. It's a well-intentioned effort, but far too misleading to be used in articles - if someone wants to create a new version of this, I strongly recommend using linguistics texts. Knepflerle (talk) 15:37, 17 December 2009 (UTC)
  • French is not an official language in Mauritania — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:34, 15 May 2013 (UTC)

That is not acceptable. That map is unaccurate. Like i said it in the talk page of this pic, in Turkey lot more people speaks English or German as their second language, not Arabic. KazekageTR (talk) 18:51, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

This discussion relay needs to be cleaned up[edit]

I bet this is one of the hardest subjects to define and to give infromation about becouse many people have first and second spoken languages, others have even third and "so on..." spoken languages.

So I would kindly ask every one here to strictly use sources when they want to give numbers on the most spoken languages in the world.

I suggest most of the personal comments and gibberish in the discussion should be removed in order to clean up this page.

For the sake of the site, we should present other data than what is currently beeing presented at the article. Since a lot is inaccurate or simply false.

If we only include the First spoken languages, the CIA factbook estimates:

First spoken Language in Millions and precantage: Mandarin Chinese: 897.65M 13.22% Spanish: 331.36M 4.88% English: 317.77M 4.58% Arabic: 211.85M 3.12% Hindi: 186.05M 2.74% Portugese: 182.65M 2.69% Bengali: 175.86M 2.59% Russian: 149.78M 2.2% Japanese: 125.62M 1.85% Standard German: 97.78M 1.44% French: 81.48M 1.2%

Source: —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:09, 6 February 2010 (UTC)

Pending changes[edit]

This article is one of a number selected for the early stage of the trial of the Wikipedia:Pending Changes system on the English language Wikipedia. All the articles listed at Wikipedia:Pending changes/Queue are being considered for level 1 pending changes protection.

The following request appears on that page:

Comments on the suitability of theis page for "Pending changes" would be appreciated.

Please update the Queue page as appropriate.

Note that I am not involved in this project any much more than any other editor, just posting these notes since it is quite a big change, potentially

Regards, Rich Farmbrough, 00:41, 17 June 2010 (UTC).

Bengali, a world language[edit]

Surprisingly I found that Bengali has been excluded from the list of World Languages. But unlike Japanese Bengali fulfils all the criteria of a world language. It is spoken by more than 100 million speakers, It is the offical language of more than one country, In India it is the official language of more than one state and the major language in one Union territory (Andaman and Nicobar Islands). Moreover it is spoken widely as a second language mainly in the state of Tripura by the tribals (even after Kokborok has been given the status of an official language)). So Bengali, the sixth major language of the world is an world language. -Trinanjon Basu (talk) 16:40, 16 July 2010 (UTC)

The Russian "official status" map in the article[edit]


...does not only show the official status of the language, but also shows countries with diasporan minorities larger than 8,000 speakers with solid colors, unlike other language maps where these minorities are shown by small squares. It also apparently doesn't distinguish between native speakers and secondary language speakers. This all makes it look much more widely spoken than English or Spanish... wouldn't this map on the right be far more accurate? -- megA (talk) 21:28, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

OK, since nobody seems to care, I'll be brave... -- megA (talk) 13:51, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

Wrong number of Chinese-speaking people[edit]

The table included in the article says, that 845 million people speak Chinese as a first language. According to the article on the Chinese language this is the number of native Mandarin speakers. the caption should therefore be changed to Chinese (Mandarin) or the number of native speakers should be corrected to approx. 1 billion. Could someone with an account please do that ? (talk) 01:30, 13 March 2011 (UTC)

Time for semi-protection?[edit]

It is frustrating to keep on rejecting those bizzare changes made by that one IP, it seems to be a dynamic one. Perhaps we should request a different level of protection, i.e. semi-protection. Thoughts?--Tærkast (Communicate) 12:05, 29 March 2011 (UTC)

The function of that one IP is "alone against the Mafia". —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:03, 17 April 2011 (UTC)

The semi-protection has been invented by the lobbyists. With this instrument they can manipulate any Wikipedia article and provoke the distortion of the truth. But this cannot be in the interest of Wikipedia. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:18, 6 May 2011 (UTC)

1.8 billion english speakers[edit]

The page cites the number of combined English speakers in the world as being 1.8 billion. While this figure doesn't sound totally unreasonable, its sources are questionable. The first of its sources leads to a broken link, and the second of the sources leads to a page which cites individual numbers for specific countries. Certainly a rough figure could be obtained by adding up all the figures, but it's not a hard source. A little more research than a single webpage like that should be done in order to get a better figure. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jpsousa4 (talkcontribs) 19:52, 12 April 2011 (UTC)

English in the lead[edit]

Is there a reason why English is not in the lead of this article? This is the first time I've come across this page and I was surprised to see English is not mentioned until the first section.Borgarde (talk) 08:52, 19 April 2011 (UTC)

World language doesn´t belong to any specific place, El lenguaje universal no pertenece a ninguna locación geografica.[edit]

Diazjrdp (talk) 05:25, 1 May 2011 (UTC)

Accuracy regarding "strictest sense"[edit]

Are you sure Arabic and Russian are any more of a "world language in the strictest sense" than Mandarin or Hindi? Whathitz (talk) 16:40, 14 May 2011 (UTC)

Arabic, Russian and Portuguese are in no case "world languages in the strictest sense". They have been brought there only by lobyists. German ranks far before these languages as a spoken foreign language in the world. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:02, 5 June 2011 (UTC)

Spanish vs. Castilian[edit]

The term "Castilian" should not be added in parenthesis next to "Spanish." Castilian is a very distinct variety of the Spanish language also known as original/European/Iberian/Peninsular Spanish and is only spoken primarily in Spain. Though in the Spanish language the term 'castellano' is used often to refer to Spanish in any of its varieties (including in Spain, where some people feel 'Spanish' is an umbrella term that houses Castilian, Catalan, Galician and other minor languages), in the English-speaking world, Castilian refers exclusively to European Spanish, which is in this form not a world language. For this reason, "Spanish" should be used instead of "Spanish (Castilian)." T.W. (talk) 19:01, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

Hi Taran Wanderer. I would say just go ahead and implement the change. We could do with some more contributors to the article. Best — Mr. Stradivarius on tour 23:08, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

add colonialism ?[edit]

per the first paragraph:

"...but also by its geographical distribution, and its use in international organizations and in diplomatic relations.[1][2] In this respect, major world languages are dominated by languages of European origin. The historical reason for this is the period of European imperialism."

change to something like this (if, of course colonialism is within the bounds of world language).

"...but also by its geographical distribution, diplomatic relations, and its use in international organizations.[1][2] In this regard, major world languages are dominated by languages of European origin. The historical reason for this is due to expansionist European imperialism and colonialism."

My conclusion is both imperialism AND colonialism are both important reasons how/why European languages dominated this era. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Gizziiusa (talkcontribs) 13:53, 15 April 2012 (UTC)

Dubious figures[edit]

I've added a dubious tag to both the number of Spanish and French speakers. Of course, in total there are that many people who have studied French or Spanish but that is not the same as being an actual user. Aaker (talk) 15:40, 26 July 2012 (UTC)

Sin embargo no has marcado el 1800 M de inglés, una cifra que tiene el mismo inconveniente que acabas de mencionar para el francés y el castellano. Polsf45 (talk) 17:26, 16 November 2012 (UTC)
Couldn’t we just use figures from WolframAlpha? 〜Britannic124 (talk) 17:09, 21 October 2013 (UTC)

Complete rework of the article[edit]

I plan to do a complete rework of the article, because the quality of this article is currently low. The article is in opposition with the term "world language".

  • The only world language today is English.
  • Other languages like French, Spanish and Russian are just supra-regional language, because they have no world influence (anymore). I live 100 kilometres away from the border to France and the French language absolutely plays no role here. The same is with Spanish, it's just influential in the U.S. (because of immigrants) but elsewhere in the world its influence is irrelevant.
  • Those languages are supra-regional languages, because they are just influential in regions around the area where they are spoken (e.g. French is just influential Northern Africa, because those countries have a French colonial history and are surrounded by French-speaking countries (France, Mali, Niger) but in Asia, in the U.S., in the U.K., East Europe, South America French is completely irrelevant in terms of a world language.

If you have suggestions, what I should include in the rework, please bring them here in. Thanks. -- (talk) 20:12, 12 June 2013 (UTC)

Yeah I would agree with removing spanish from the 'world languages' bit and putting it in the other section. It is only really commonly studied as a second language in the United States and Western Europe (and in Europe it is behind English, French and German). In Africa and Asia (with the exception of the Philippines), it is essentially non-existant. You could compare it with Arabic - in certain regions of the world it is very influential, but in others not at all; i.e. a supra-regional language.
  • But I think French should remain in the world languages section (with English), - this is the second most studied foreign language (behind English) - even in areas with little connection to historical French colonialism/ imperialism.
  • For example in the United States, Spanish is the most studied second language (by English speakers), this is for obvious reasons (large numbers of immigrants). If you would guess the second most studied language, one might imagine it to be German or Italian (given the massive influence these ethnic groups have had on the US culture in the past) - but in fact it is French - despite relatively isolated French-speaking communities and comparatively less people with French ancestry than people with German or Italian ancestries.
  • So French is learnt in North America, Europe (second most spoken second language in EU after English), Africa. And I think (but wold have to check to be sure) is the most studied second language in Australia and New Zealand, despite relatively few people with French ancestry (compared with Italian, German, Indian, Chinese and others) and no history of French imperialism. In Asia I dont think it is that influential but would certainly be more influential than Spanish and other European languages (with the exception of English).
  • So I think it is clear that French is the second most influential language behind English - certainly ahead of Spanish which is mainly spoken in poverty-stricken Latin America, and mainly learnt in the United States
  • If you look at the world as an average, most people would agree that the most influential languages are 1. English 2. French 3. Spanish. BUT if you divide the world into Western hemisphere (N+S America) and Eastern hemisphere (the rest of the continents). You would have in the Western hemisphere 1. English 2. Spanish 3. Portuguese 4. French. In the East however, Spanish would fall back several places - Across the whole hemisphere is 1. English - clearly a world language. French would go in as 2. But Spanish would fall behind German and Russian in Eastern Europe (as well and French and English). In Africa it is barely a factor. And across Asia I would put it behind Chinese, Hindi, Japanese and Indonesian - it is no more commonly taught across the continent as these are. Also well behind French, English, Russian and Arabic.
  • So you have French as a commonly taught/spoken language in both Hemispheres (No. 4 in West and No. 2 in East - arguable), but Spanish only in the West as No.2, in the East probably falls back to 7 or 8 behind English, French, Arabic, Russian, German, Hindi, Chinese - and in some areas probably behind Indonesian and Japanese. If Spanish was truly a world language, there is no way it would have such a low influence in some regions. French never falls below 5th place in any region.
  • I think one of the reasons behind the pushing for Spanish as a world language comes from the perception that Latin America will become a major economic powerhouse in the future - but if this means Spanish is a world language, then the same status should be given to Chinese, Russian, Hindi, Arabic, and French (from Francafrique) - all of which by simple demographics have more potential than Hispanic America
  • Another reason is a US-centric view of the world - In the United States Spanish seems like it will become more and more influential - however in the rest of the world Spanish simply does not have the same importance
  • So I would suggest putting French and English in the world languages section - with perhaps a note saying that French has a fading influence as a world language and is being quickly superseded by English. Spanish and the others certainly do not qualify - they simply do not have large influence across ALL regions of the world -- Nuiop731 (talk) 14:04, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

Removal of Spanish from World Languages Section[edit]

I dont see what qualifies Spanish to be a world language, when Chinese, Arabic, Russian, German are put in the 'supra-regional' section. It seems wrong to put it under the heading 'world languages in the strictest sense are'.

  • Outside of North and South America, Spanish has no more influence than Chinese, Arabic, Russian, German, Hindi etc.
  • It is not particularly relevant in Asia or Africa.
  • In the EU, it is behind French and German for the most studied AND the most known foreign language. If you include the ex-Soviet sphere, it is behind Russian in Europe as well.
  • It does not satisfy the 'large fraction of second language speakers, use as a ligua franca' criteria. Chinese, Arabic, Russian, and Hindi do.
  • In the Western Hemisphere of course it is an important language - but this alone does not qualify it to be classified as a world language, especially as this region only contains a relatively small proportion of the world's wealth and population.

I am not arguing that Spanish is not a hugely influential language - it does have a large number of speakers and is commonly learned as a foreign language - but the same could be said of Arabic, Chinese, Russian - yet these languages are in the supra-regional languages section. This is where Spanish should belong. Nuiop731 (talk) 13:43, 22 December 2013 (UTC)

Then, English is the only world language, because French is only important in the European Union and in Africa. In America, Asia and Oceania few people speak French. Even in the EU, German is more important than French and Italian is more spoken natively. In Africa few people speak French as mother tongue. --Migang2g (talk) 18:35, 23 December 2013 (UTC)

Data from the European Union, shown on the page Languages of the European Union, estimates that 12% of EU citizens can speak French as an additional language, compared to 11% for German, 7% for Spanish, 5% for Russian and 3% for Italian. Does this show that German is a more important language? If this was the case, why do more EU citizens choose to speak French over German as an additional language? The point about native speakers is irrelevant, as discussed in this article, Bengali has more native speakers than French, yet is not considered a world language. Yes, French has few speakers outside Europe and Africa, but Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Arabic have even fewer speakers outside their respective regions/ethnicities. The point I am making is that English (1st) and French (2nd) are the two most influential world languages. Since there is no strict definition of a world language, it is somewhat arbitrary to split them into two tiers - by some definitions, all of the 'second-tier' could be considered world languages, by other definitions, only English could be. The important thing is, French is more qualified to be considered a world language than Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, or Russian. So excluding Spanish without excluding French is perfectly appropriate, some definitions of a 'world language' would agree with this. I think that it is inappropriate to include Spanish in the 'top-tier' list without including Arabic, Chinese, and Russian - which I do not think should be done. It all depends on how exclusive we want the top-tier list to be; I believe that having English with French is fine, if you think it should be English only, or all six languages, then explain why. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Nuiop731 (talkcontribs) 15:31, 25 December 2013 (UTC)

To consider a world language, is also need to consider native speakers and as a second language speakers. You can read it in this Wikipedia article “A world language is not only characterized by the number of its speakers (native or second language speakers)”.

In fact, it’s truth that there are many French students as a foreign language. This is because there are many French students in the African countries with French as an official language. The same happens in Asia. In the case of Spanish in the American countries, people speak it mainly as a first language. The same happens with English in USA, Canada, Australia or NZ. The problem is that French speakers are mainly students as a foreign language in the schools in their African or Asian ancient colonies . There aren’t almost speakers as a first language, and you are considering this fact as a virtue to consider French as a world language. I think this is a health problem of the language for the future. This not happens in Belgium or Quebec, but both have few million speakers.

Maybe French is a bit more studied than German but there are many more German native speakers. French is not the second most important language of Europe. It’s the fourth. English, Russian, German are more important.

I can tell you about important countries where Spanish is not official but is more important than French as foreign language: USA, Brazil, China, Philippines.

My conclusion is that English is the only properly world language, but the most international organization listed which are the world languages. The official languages of the UN are Arabic, Mandarin-Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. --Migang2g (talk) 05:42, 3 January 2014 (UTC)

Where did you get the data that Spanish is more widely studied than French in China? Well, for your information the most studied foreign languages in China are English, Russian, French, Japanese, and German in that order.
To tell you honestly, English speakers are amazed that lots of people in French Africa are native French speakers even those with limited education while that didn't happen in former British Africa.
Agree. English is the only world language in reality. Whether it be the back-blocks of China or elsewhere, English is understood - just stand silently and friendly-looking in a queue of local people and you have the answer. Which language do Chinese medical researchers publish in besides Chinese ? They also publish in English like everyone else. Move French next to Spanish.Jembana (talk) 02:04, 4 January 2014 (UTC)

In the Philippines, despite efforts to revive Spanish but the result is futile. Actually, the condition of French in Indochina (which was colonized by France for less than a hundred years) is far better than Spanish in the Philippines (which was under Spanish rule for 333 years).

Hi why is Spanish in two categories? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:58, 8 January 2014 (UTC)

Spanish should not be removed, it is currently the second-largest language by native speakers and third most spoken language overall. It is expected one day in the future, about 2050, Spanish will be the most spoken native language in the whole world. The Spanish-speaking world is growing, especially where most of the Spanish-speaking population lives (Hispanic America). Spanish could of been the most important language in the world, for the Spanish Empire was a truly global empire. However, it was superseded by he British Empire which was the largest empire in history, which is why English became a world language. This was further boosted by the fact that the United States, an English-speaking country, became a superpower, and remains the sole one to this day. The Spanish Empire was a vast empire, the Pacific Ocean was referred to as a "Spanish lake." Spain was in Europe, in the Americas, in Africa, and in Asia. A person above mentioned that Hispanics always state how their language is spoken in 20 countries, but that supposedly they don't realize that Brazil is half of South America alone. The only reason Brazil did not break up is because the Portuguese monarchy moved there after Napoleon invaded Spain. When the royal family returned, they left their son Pedro, who subsequently simply declared independence. Hispanic America broke up because foreign powers believed it was easier to control it if they could break it up into little pieces. Another person above mentioned that attempts to reintroduce Spanish in the Philippines are futile, the only reason why this happens is because there is no major push to learn about their history. Sadly, Filipinos are told to forget their Hispanic background, when in fact the Philippines today would not exist if it were not for the Spaniards. Emilio Aguinaldo himself stated that the one thing he regretted the most was declaring Filipino independence, because the Spanish always treated them as brothers, while the Americans exploited it. Manuel Luis Quezón, a Spanish-speaker himself, believed it was their duty to protect the Spanish language, because it was the bond between the Filipinos and Hispanic America. As a person of Hispanic American descent, I truly believe Filipinos are my family. Spanish is an important and global language, and it is becoming increasingly important in the United States, and one day the United States will be the largest Spanish-speaking country. I kindly ask for Spanish not to be removed. I think the best defintion fpr a world language would be to define the world languages as the official languages of the United Nations. So English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Russian and Chinese. Thank you. Viller the Great (talk) 00:32, 1 March 2015 (UTC)


Why was Hebrew put into this page? Now, I am a Jew and thus know Hebrew. My guess is the reason is because of the presence of Jews all over the world.

Anonymous96.226.22.43 (talk) 06:06, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

Hebrew should be removed from this list. While it does have widespread use and knowledge among the Jewish peoples, its far too small a number and is the official language of only one country. It in no way fulfills even the most mild definition of a supra national language. — Preceding unsigned comment added by SRcaInyAva (talkcontribs) 08:49, 5 February 2014 (UTC)
Green tickYDeleted from list   — Wikierroneous 00:19, 17 October 2014 (UTC)


I would be interested to know why Turkish is not at least in the "Other supra-regional languages" section - surely it is equivalent of Iranian, Hebrew, Indonesian, etc in the criteria stakes ? Please enlighten me on the reasons for its exclusion from this page.Jembana (talk) 10:16, 2 January 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for adding Turkish but the map does not show the full extent of Turkish (mutually-intelligible) into Central Asia and western China.Jembana (talk) 23:20, 15 January 2014 (UTC)

I couldnt find any other map. Its the most fitting one. KazekageTR (talk) 18:44, 16 January 2014 (UTC)

Turkic Languages qualify as lingua franca or supranational, but Turkish does not and should be removed from the section. — Preceding unsigned comment added by SRcaInyAva (talkcontribs) 08:44, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

I would like to know why are there both Turkish and Turkic languages? The two are not completely separate. Turkish is a Turkic language. There are many Turkic languages. Viller the Great (talk) 06:31, 23 February 2014 (UTC)


To add balance to my comment above, why isn't Armenian in the "Other supra-regional languages" section when it has a world-wide diaspora just the same as Hebrew does and similarly has a religious tradition behind it (but a unique Christian tradition) ? I would gladly add both these if others agree.Jembana (talk) 10:24, 2 January 2014 (UTC)

I agree with you on Armenian.Including it would be a good idea. I do not know about Turkish though.

Anonymous96.226.22.43 (talk) 02:27, 7 January 2014 (UTC)

Turkish is offical language in 3 countries, recognized minority language in 6 countries and turks have unrecognized large diaspora in germany, france, austria, america etc. etc. and lastsly it is been spoken by 200M people. you dont think that turkish is a supra-regional? kazekagetr 19:04, 30 January 2015 (UTC)

Too few Spanish speakers[edit]

I think that the current estimate in the table of 500 for the total number of Spanish speakers is a tad low. I would multiply it by a million or so. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:40, 20 January 2014 (UTC)

About the second paragraph[edit]

The second paragraph of the article talks about the most influencial languages nowadays: English, French, Arabic, Russian, Chinese and German, however, it doesn't mention Spanish witch is as relevant as the others, so in my opinion Spanish should be added to that paragraph. --Apolo13 (talk) 14:58, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

The fact that you mention is incredible. Spanish has more native speakers than English. Go to the relevant article in Wiki and you will find the information and the links. By the way, look here what the British Council thinks about Spanish. The original study can be found in the article: and here you can find updated information bu Ethnologue, which is the source cited in this article. Spanish is clearly second to Chinese in terms of native speakers, and it is spoken in 44 diffent countries by a population of 3 million or more: The lack of good faith by many editors is one of the great problems in Wiki. Pipo. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:53, 1 October 2014 (UTC)

  • yup. the article needs a POV tag in it. ---Pedro (talk) 02:24, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

1st paragraph[edit]

There seems to be problems with the numbers shown on "world languages"

For English 335 M + 505 M + 600 M =1440

but for Spanish    406 M   + 466 M + 20 M make a lot more than     528 M 

and for French 78.6 M + 118.5 M + 100 M = 297.1 and not 274 M . Do we know where the problems come from? ThanksFondouce (talk) 14:25, 16 December 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Typo, second paragraph:

"English is also increasingLY becoming the dominant language of scientific research" (talk) 02:33, 27 January 2016 (UTC)

Spanish Language Map[edit]

The map for the distribution of the Spanish language seems to far exaggerate the presence of Spanish in the United States and Canada. For example several Canadian provinces are marked as having "between 10 and 20 percent Spanish speakers"; but a quick check of the relevant Wikipedia pages shows that the true figure is less than 2 percent (ON, QC) or even less than 1 percent (BC). For the United States, the map seems to shade according to the Hispanic/Latino population in these states. This ignores the fact that many people of Hispanic origin do not speak Spanish natively, or speak it co-natively with English and are more proficient in English, or simply don't speak Spanish to a high level. Many non-hispanic people do not speak Spanish fluently, despite possibly having Spanish education. The U.S. census bureau estimates the only states where more than 10% of people "primarily or only speak Spanish", are California and Texas. A handful more are between 5 - 10%. I suggest changing the map to this oneCountries with Spanish as an official language.svg — Preceding unsigned comment added by Nuiop733 (talkcontribs) 13:43, 15 March 2016 (UTC)

Yes, go ahead, upload that map, for the reasons that you give. I had not looked at the current map before. Among other things, indicating that Quebec and Ontario have 10-20% Spanish speakers is delirious nonsense.--Lubiesque (talk) 14:29, 15 March 2016 (UTC)

Portuguese should be listed with English, French and Spanish. Actually, there are more native Portuguese speakers than there are of French. Portuguese is spoken officially on 5 continents - not even Spanish has this geographic global reach as an official language. Apart from being spoken officially spoken in Spain, Spanish is mostly spoken officially in the Americas. Brazil alone has the 5th biggest economy in the world. 51% of the speakers in South America speaks Portuguese. Angola has the 3rd strongest economy is Africa right now - Mozambique is not far behind (both countries are rich in oil, gold, diamonds, coffee, sugar, and many other precious metals. At this moment China is the main trading partner of Brazil, Angola and Mozambique - in fact, all of the 10 Portuguese speaking nations. CPLP (Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries) even has its own Olympic Games and India is a member. In fact, numerous countries in the world want membership in the CPLP e.g. Australia, Indonesia, Philippines, Peru, Venezuela, Turkey, Japan, Senegal, Namibia, etc. This is a clear indication of the economic importance of the Portuguese language in the world, and it is only getting stronger everyday. So much so that many countries in the world are learning Portuguese as a favourite 2nd language e.g., China, Japan, Venezuela, South Africa, Senegal, etc. Even the Spaniards are enthusiastically learning Portuguese! Please give Portuguese its due respect, recognition, and position as a true world language - it's spoken all over the world by 280 million people. It is spoken officially on 5 continents, is the 3rd most spoken European language, is the 3rd most spoken language of the Americas, and the most spoken language of the Southern Hemisphere! The Portuguese language more than meets the parameters of a world language as you have indicated. I will indicate whether or not Portuguese meets the criteria with a simple yes or no and a brief example:

    • a large number of speakers = yes, 280 Million total
    • a substantial fraction of non-native speakers (function as lingua franca) = yes, there are millions of non-native Portuguese speakers in the world, and 400,000 strong community of Japanese/Brazilians living in Japan.
    • official status in several countries = yes, Brasil, Angola, Mozambique, etc. 9 countries in all.
    • use across several regions in the world = yes, Portuguese is spoken officially in 5 continents.
    • a linguistic community not defined strictly along ethnic lines (multi ethnic, pluricentric language) = yes, Portuguese speakers in Macau (China), Goa, Daman, Diu (India), Japan (400,000 Japanese/Brazilian community in Japan), etc.
    • one or more standard registers which are widely taught as a foreign language = yes
    • association with linguistic prestige = yes, Galego/Portuguese was for a long time the preferred language of the Spanish courts. Nowadays, Portuguese is being taught as a preferred 2nd language all over the world e.g. China, Japan, USA, Venezuela, Uruguay, Argentina, South Africa, Senegal, Namibia, India, etc.
    • use in international trade relations = yes, China, United States, India (main trading partners of Brazil, Angola, Mozambique) do tons of trade with Brazil, Angola, Etc. Portuguese is one of the 2 official languages of Mercosur - South American Economic Trade Agreement between Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil.
    • use in international organizations = yes, CPLP, Mercosur, African Union, European Union, Latin American Union,
    • use in the academic community = yes, Portuguese is being enthusiastically taught as a 2nd language in the primary, secondary, university educational systems of: China, Japan, South Africa, Venezuela, Argentina (obligatory), Uruguay (obligatory), Paraguay, Senegal (obligatory), Namibia, United States, Spain, India, etc.
    • significant body of literature = yes, Luis Vaz de Camoes (Os Lusiads), Jose Saramago, etc.

— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:34, 9 July 2016 (UTC)

Although it is strange to post this under the heading Spanish Language Map: I agree. Portuguese is usually underestimated by those who don't speak the language. Love —LiliCharlie (talk) 15:57, 9 July 2016 (UTC)

I put it here because I felt that it would give my contribution more visibility. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:48, 10 July 2016 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 30 April 2016[edit]

Please remove the map File:Map-Hindustani World.png which is located in the World language#Other supra-regional languages section as it is factually incorrect. Firstly Afghanistan does not speak Indo-Aryan languages and thus should not even be included in the map, secondly most Bhutanese do not speak Hindi or a "Hindi language like Urdu" they speak Dzongkha, a Tibeto-Burman language and Nepali, thirdly South Indians do not speak Hindi or Indo-Aryan languages they speak Dravidian languages and finally Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans, Maldivians and Nepalese do not speak a "Hindi language". The map in a way is offensive to people of Bhutanese, Sri Lankan, Maldivian, Bangladeshi and Nepalese descent who seem to always be lumped with Indians despite the diversity present in South Asia, please remove it. (talk) 00:37, 30 April 2016 (UTC)

I don't know about the other countries, but the findings of this survey by The Asia Foundation of 2006 were that 7% of Afghans were L2 speakers of Urdu and another 1% L2 speakers of Hindi. Can you cite any sources for your claims? Love —LiliCharlie (talk) 01:28, 30 April 2016 (UTC)
Okay I understand, but it is incorrect to include Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Southern and Northeastern India, Bangladesh, Nepal and the Maldives. Hindustani language only refers to Hindi and Urdu and not the languages of the countries and regions mentioned above. ( (talk) 01:56, 30 April 2016 (UTC))
Let me add that Wikipedia is all about reliable sources, not about what someone thinks they know or what people might or might not find offensive. — BTW, Fiji isn't mentioned as a Hindi/Hindustani speaking country, cf. Languages of Fiji. Love —LiliCharlie (talk) 02:36, 30 April 2016 (UTC)
I'm not sure why you are getting angry at me. The information is incorrect do you not see that? The page Hindustani language clearly supports what I'm saying. How can you indirectly say that Bhutanese, Sri Lankans, Maldivians, Bangladeshis, Nepalese, South and Northeastern Indians all speak a "Hindi language" when they don't? The map does not even have a reliable source, the source redirects to the same page as the map. So are you telling me that all South Asians speak a Hindi language? ( (talk) 03:10, 30 April 2016 (UTC))
The page Hindustani language refers to Hindi and Urdu and says its spoken in India, Pakistan and Fiji. The page does not say its spoken in Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal or the Maldives. That's why the map is incorrect to use on this page as it is located in a section discussing "Hindustani" only. Do you understand what I'm trying to say? ( (talk) 00:56, 1 May 2016 (UTC))
Red information icon with gradient background.svg Not done: please establish a consensus for this alteration before using the {{edit semi-protected}} template.  B E C K Y S A Y L E 03:51, 9 May 2016 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 1 May 2016[edit]

The map, "File:Map-Sinophone World.png", used for the Mandarin Chinese section is incorrect. Firstly, the map does not have a proper source just like the "File:Map-Hindustani World.png" map, it too redirects to a Wikipedia page. Secondly, the map includes the Philippines as a country that has a sizeable Chinese speaking minority when in reality most Chinese Filipinos do not speak Chinese as their first language as they have integrated well into mainstream Filipino society. Most Chinese Filipinos speak Filipino or English. [7] [8] '' ← This is a graph that a user has created based on the information published in the second source. (talk) 01:26, 1 May 2016 (UTC)

Red question icon with gradient background.svg Not done: it's not clear what changes you want to be made. Please mention the specific changes in a "change X to Y" format.  B E C K Y S A Y L E 03:51, 9 May 2016 (UTC)

Edit request - Persian_Language_Location_Map.svg[edit]

please insert File:Persian_Language_Location_Map.svg instead of File:Persian Language Location Map1.png (talk) 18:31, 14 February 2017 (UTC)

 Done per commons:Help:SVG. Love —LiliCharlie (talk) 19:39, 14 February 2017 (UTC)

Dutch doesn't meet the criteria[edit]

Dutch should be moved to being a supra-regional language:

1. Unlike other languages it's details are unsourced 2. Remarkably fewer speakers than German and French, the other two lesser spoken ones (although they are undeniably world languages) 3. Not taught significantly as a foreign language compared to the other European world languages, or even the supra-regional language Italian. 4. Most importantly: Afrikaans and Dutch aren't the same Language. They're a mother and daughter language pairing, even the link on the page to the geographic distribution of the two is a link to the Wikipedia article on Dutch, which is decidedly different from the one in Afrikaans. J43437 (talk) 21:36, 13 June 2017 (UTC)

Clarifying: linguistically speaking, Dutch and Afrikaans =/=. It's not like Indonesian and Malay, which can both be termed as Malay-based, but two separate languages with a degree of asymmetrical mutual intelligibility, similar to any given two Scandinavian languages. The other points I mentioned before are reason enough, but this stands on its own as a sole reason for it to be edited: there is a significant difference between Malay based / serbo-Croatian language differences, and Dutch and Afrikaans (one that's been recognised on other Wikipedia pages). If this wasn't reason enough refer to points 1-3 earlier - also, it's only an official language in 3 states, making it the least distributed tieng with Chinese - unlike Chinese it doesn't have the ridiculous amount of speakers to back it up. J43437 (talk) 21:43, 13 June 2017 (UTC)

I haven't read the source given above the table. Have you? Love —LiliCharlie (talk) 21:58, 13 June 2017 (UTC)

Serbo-Croatian as a Supra-Regional Langauge[edit]

It fits all of the criteria, is official in 5 countries - more than any other supra-regional language. J43437 (talk) 21:45, 13 June 2017 (UTC)

Reliable source for this contention? --Iryna Harpy (talk) 22:47, 14 June 2017 (UTC)

Other supra-regional languages section[edit]

I've tagged the Other supra-regional languages section as original research. Where are any of the languages in this table discussed as 'failing some criteria, but meeting with others'? What 'criteria', and what 'other criteria' do they meet? As an analogy, I could qualify some human beings 'failing some criteria' for being female, but meeting 'other criteria' for the same if I wanted to apply my own pretend criteria (such as 'women have long hair'; 'women wear high-heeled shoes; women giggle a lot): it's a load of nothing but flights of personal fancy. The truly bizarre part is that there are editors arguing over which languages meet with the criteria (or a single criterion?!) for a concept that doesn't have a single reliable source to back up the contention that it exists. Using "Ethnologue" for numbers of speakers is a complete misuse of the source. --Iryna Harpy (talk) 23:34, 14 June 2017 (UTC)