Although many people have wondered what are the most spoken languages in the world in 2022, it is common for speculation and false beliefs to come to mind faster than the decision to do a quick search on the Internet.
But the answer is much more complex than you think, and it has nothing to do with the number of countries that speak a language or the number of people with one or another mother tongue, but with something much less considered: the facts.
The different events of history have motivated people to choose to learn this or that language, and that includes both the facts that appear in the books and the will of each individual to work in what they want.
At Lingua Language Center, we wanted to answer this question to explain in a more general way the cause of our preference for certain languages, especially Western ones, which foster communication with the rest of the world.
These are the most spoken languages in the world
1. English – 1,121 million speakers
It is the most widely spoken language in the world because of the global impact of England and the United States in the last three centuries.
It is not the mother tongue of most people, but it is the one that most people seek to learn. With English, there is no country or culture that cannot be accessed in a globalized world. This is the lingua franca of the 21st century.
2. Mandarin Chinese – 1,107 million speakers
Mandarin Chinese is the language with the most native speakers. But in recent years, the number of people interested in learning it as a second or third language has increased. This is due to the importance of China for the economic development of the world’s companies, both as a country that generates raw materials and as a technology developer.
3. Hindi – 698 million speakers
This is another language almost completely spoken by native speakers. But something similar to China is starting to happen: people want to do business with India, and speaking the language has become an important option.
However, the difference from China is that in India, almost 350 million people are able to communicate in a basic way in English and 100 million speak it correctly.
4. Spanish – 512 million speakers
Spanish is spoken as the official language in Spain, in 19 countries in the Americas, and in one in Africa. But its impact goes much further because of migrations.
For example, in the United States there are already more Spanish speakers than in Spain itself.
Speaking in Spanish has become an opportunity for professionals from all kinds of careers. That is why it is one of the most studied languages in the world.
5. French – 284 million speakers
For centuries, French was considered the language of art and culture. That is still a reality in some aspects, but the language goes much further.
The francophone encompasses 29 countries in the world without counting the territories that are still French colonies.
6. Arabic – 273 million speakers
The beauty of this language continues to amaze linguists around the world. As it has sounds in its pronunciation that are alien to the Western world, there has always been a fear of delving into its learning.
However, the experience of learning it has surprised a growing number of enthusiasts initially attracted to trade with Middle Eastern countries.
7. Bengali – 265 million inhabitants
This language cannot go unnoticed. It originated more than a thousand years ago and is part of the Eastern Indo-Aryan sub-branch.
Today it is spoken in basically two places: Bagladesh and West Bengal.
8. Russian – 258 million speakers
As extensive as the Russian territory is the use of its language. It is a mixture that resulted between several Slavic languages and classical Greek.
From there comes its peculiar Cyrillic alphabet, which according to its practitioners is the easiest to learn of a simple, sonorous and interesting language.
9. Portuguese – 234 million speakers
In the business world, Brazil is not spoken of as another market, but as another planet. It is a completely different world from what is known even in the rest of Latin America.
That is why speaking Portuguese is opening the doors to a new world.
In any case, this language also represents an opportunity beyond Brazil, as it is spoken in Portugal and in several African countries.
10. Indonesian – 200 million speakers
Although the majority of the inhabitants of the Republic of Indonesia are currently bilingual, Indonesian is their mother tongue.
It is also spoken in various parts of Malaysia and East Timor.
Despite its millions of inhabitants, it is used more frequently in urban Indonesia than in rural areas.
11. Urdu – 170 million speakers
Although it is the official language of Pakistan, its use in northern India has increased considerably in recent decades.
Urdu is written from right to left with the same alphabet used for Arabic and Persian. But its origin is different from that of these two languages. It was passed down by the Mongols from northern India and has been performed for centuries thanks to trade.
12. Japanese – 150 million speakers
Although Japan is only 377,975 kilometers long, it has 126 million inhabitants. But to speak rigorously of the language, we must include other corners of the world such as Palau, Marshall Islands, Guam, Hawaii, Micronesia, South Korea, Taiwan, and some more…
If with Portuguese we said that the language opens the doors to another planet, with Japanese we would have to speak of another universe.
It is about another culture that does not even have to do with the western one. The differences are so great that sometimes there are no common places between Japan and the rest of the world. And all that is the most interesting and attractive thing about learning Japanese.
13. German – 135 million speakers
Germany’s leadership in Europe makes it a very attractive language to learn. It is also spoken in Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and Belgium, as well as in multiple regions of central Europe.
There is debate about its number of speakers, because, beyond the 135 million that we name here, a 2018 study calculates that there may currently be 298 million people speaking it to different degrees of knowledge.
14. Punjabi – 100 million speakers
It is an Indo-European language spoken in eastern India, in the Punjab region.
Its origin is in the Pracritic dialects.
Punjab is home to some of the oldest civilizations in the world, the Indus Valley. Therefore, the study of their language is of great interest to linguists and scholars mainly.
15. Javanese – 84 million speakers
This is a language that is spoken in the area of Indonesia, mainly on the island of Java.
16. Wu Chinese – 80 million speakers
This dialect of Chinese is spoken in various parts of the east of the country. In addition, emigration has also caused it to be used frequently in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
17. Telugu – 79 million speakers
It is another of the languages of overpopulated India, spoken mainly in the west of the country (in the states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh).
It is currently the fastest-growing language in the United States. Between 2010 and 2017 alone, the number of speakers in this country increased by 86%.
According to the Fundación Gente Télugu, the increase in speakers in the United States is due to the strong links between the city of Hyderabad, in India, and the engineering industries in America.
Tegulu is the mother tongue of many of Asia’s best engineers.
18. Turkish – 78 million speakers
The importance of the Turkish language is the same as that of Turkey as a country: they are the connection between Europe and the East.
It belongs to the family of Turkic languages, which extend from western China to the Balkan Peninsula.
19. Korean – 77 million speakers
It is the official language of South Korea and North Korea. Technology is the main reason to learn this language. However, popular culture has been one of the keys to bringing young people closer to the language.
Musical groups such as Black Pink or BTS have generated authentic industries around the so-called K-Pop, and this has made the acquisition of the language much more attractive.
20. Marathi – 74 million speakers
Another language of India. There are 22 official languages in that country according to its Constitution, although the two main ones are English and Hindi.
The most beautiful thing about Marathi is its amazing literary tradition, which, through its famous writers, has put India several times on the map of world literature.
It is the language spoken in the city of Bombay.
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