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What are the most Spoken Languages in the World?

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There are two primary means by which one can rank the most spoken languages in the world. It can either be according to the number of native speakers of different languages, or the number of non-native speakers. This is important as the ranking is strikingly different in both these cases. Earlier, we found out the best non-native speaking countries and in this article we will be referring to a list that takes into account the non native speakers as well.

List of Most Spoken Languages in the World

Mandarin Chinese

A total of 1.1 billion people in the world speak the Mandarin Chinese language. It is a common misconception that Chinese is a singular language, however, it’s a group of languages among which the most common being the Mandarin Chinese. There are 897 million native speakers of this language and a total of 193 million non-natives in China speak it as well. In countries such as Taiwan and Singapore there are large numbers of Mandarin Chinese speakers.

Mandarin Chinese is used as the official language in not only parts of China but also in Taiwan. The language is written using over 8000 characters. The language is an ancient pictorial representation used by the Chinese group of languages.

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Coming quite close to Mandarin Chinese is English with a total of 983 million speakers worldwide. English is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world and that is why it is not surprising to see more number of non-native speakers than that of native speakers. This is clearly an effect of the colonial history of the British Empire. 611 million non native speakers of English exist, while the number of native speakers is only 371 million.

Another factor that largely affects this high number of non-native speakers is the position the English language holds in the global professional world. English has its roots in the Germanic school of languages and is used to bridge the gap between people of different native language.

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This Indian language is a combination of two dialects, i.e. Hindi and Urdu. A total of 544 million people speak Hindustani across the Indian sub-continent. While Hindi and Urdu have many similarities, the scripts of these two languages are largely different. It is primarily seen in the central and northern parts of India, wherein a total of 329 million native speakers of Hindustani reside.

The language can find its roots in the Arabian school as well as the Aryan school. The script Devnagri which is largely accepted across India is an Aryan script. Urdu is written using an Arabic script that reads from right to left instead of the traditional left to right form.

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Spanish or Espanol is spoken by 527 million people primarily residing in Spain, South America, the Caribbean and across other geographical areas. This is another language which owes its popularity to a colonial past. It is the second highest spoken language in the United States and has a total of 91 million non-native speakers. And if we are to compare only native speakers, then the huge 436 million speakers make Spanish the second largest amongst the most popular languages in the world.

The United States is currently the second largest Spanish speaking country in the world, and is spearheaded by its neighboring nation – Mexico. This difference in count is quite thin and according to linguists, there is a chance that USA will become the largest Spanish speaking country in the world in the coming years.

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The Middle Eastern countries host 290 million native speakers of Arabic, while another 132 million non-natives speak the language, thereby making it the 5th largest amongst the most spoken languages in the world.

Arabic hosts within itself various dialects and is the official language in 26 countries. The Arabic language has widely spread across the African continent and is the official language of the Islamic religion. This has led to a huge boost in the number of non native Arabic speakers.

Modern Arabic language is quite different from classical Arabic as the Quran was written in Arabic itself. It is one of the most ancient languages to be still be active in a large capacity in recent times. However, many linguists protest against the singularization of Arabic as it can lead to generalization of multiple lingual identities.

The spread of a language and its ability to withstand time shows a deep and unique history of humankind. Some of the other most spoken languages in the world are Malay (281 million), Russian (267 million), Bengali (261 million), and Portuguese (229 million).

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