Languages of the World List, Most Spoken & Oldest Languages in World

Languages of the World

Across the globe, more than 7,100 languages are spoken, contributing to the world’s diversity. Busuu, a language spoken by 8 people in Cameroon, is an endangered language. In contrast, there are languages spoken by millions of people. English remains the most frequently spoken language (primary and second language). More than 1.4 billion people speak English around the world. According to various studies, there are more than 7,100 languages spoken around the world. However, only 2 of them have a population of one billion or more: English (1,132 million speakers) and Mandarin (1,117 million speakers).

From the standpoint of competitive examinations, the list of world languages is an important topic. In the General Awareness section of government exams such as SSC, Bank, and RRB, candidates may encounter questions about World languages or the most spoken language in the world.

This article will discuss the world’s languages. Candidates studying for exams will learn about world languages, the most spoken languages in the world, the world’s first language, and so on. The topic will assist candidates in acing the general awareness section of the examination.

List of Languages of the World

Languages of the World by the number of speakers are listed below, along with their family.

LanguageFamilyTotal No of Speakers
EnglishIndo-European1.452 billion
Mandarin Chinese

(incl. Standard Chinese, but excl. other varieties)

Sino-Tibetan1.118 billion
Hindi (excl. Urdu)Indo-European602.2 million
SpanishIndo-European548.3 million
FrenchIndo-European274.1 million
Modern Standard Arabic (excl. dialects)Afro-Asiatic274.0 million
BengaliIndo-European272.7 million
RussianIndo-European258.2 million
PortugueseIndo-European257.7 million
Urdu (excl. Hindi)Indo-European231.3 million
Indonesian (excl. Malay)Austronesian199.0 million
Standard GermanIndo-European134.6 million
JapaneseJaponic125.4 million
Nigerian PidginEnglish Creole120.7 million
MarathiIndo-European99.1 million
TeluguDravidian95.7 million
TurkishTurkic88.1 million
TamilDravidian86.4 million
Yue Chinese (incl. Cantonese)Sino-Tibetan85.6 million
VietnameseAustroasiatic85.3 million
TagalogAustronesian82.3 million
Wu Chinese (incl. Shanghainese)Sino-Tibetan81.8 million
KoreanKorean81.7 million
Iranian Persian (excl. Dari and Tajik)Indo-European77.4 million
HausaAfro-Asiatic77.1 million
Egyptian Spoken Arabic (excl. other Arabic dialects)Afro-Asiatic74.8 million
SwahiliNiger-Congo71.4 million
JavaneseAustronesian68.3 million
ItalianIndo-European67.9 million
Western Punjabi (excl. Eastern Punjabi)Indo-European66.4 million
KannadaDravidian64.0 million
GujaratiIndo-European62.0 million
ThaiKra–Dai60.7 million
AmharicAfroasiatic57.5 million
BhojpuriIndo-European52.5 million
Eastern Punjabi (excl. Western Punjabi)Indo-European51.7 million
Min Nan Chinese (incl. Hokkien)Sino-Tibetan49.7 million
Jin ChineseSino-Tibetan47.1 million
YorubaNiger-Congo45.6 million
Hakka ChineseSino-Tibetan44.1 million
BurmeseSino-Tibetan43.0 million
Sudanese Spoken ArabicAfro-Asiatic42.3 million
PolishIndo-European40.6 million
Algerian Spoken ArabicAfro-Asiatic40.3 million
LingalaNiger-Congo40.3 million

Oldest Languages of the World

  • Tamil is the world’s first language, spoken by approximately 120 million people worldwide. Following Tamil is Sanskrit, which is followed by Greek, Chinese, Hebrew, and Arabic.
  • Sumerian, which dates back to 3500 BC, is the oldest written language, followed by Egyptian, which dates back to 3300 BC. Old Chinese dates from 1250 BC.
  • German was the first language to be printed. It was not the first language to be written, but it was the first to be printed on a book.

Toughest Language of the World

Mandarin Chinese is widely regarded as the most difficult language in the world to learn. They lack Alphabets and use symbols instead, and it is estimated that the average Chinese local knows more than 8000 symbols, whereas reading a newspaper requires more than 3000 symbols.

At more than 73 characters, the alphabet for the Cambodian language is the longest. One of the hardest languages to learn on your own is the Cambodian language.

Most Spoken Languages of the World

English is most often used. English is widely used and accepted, is an official language in the majority of nations, and is simple for many people to acquire. The fact that English is the language used on aeroplanes adds to the language’s domination in the world. Both the pilot and his staff are fluent in English. The most widely utilised languages on the internet are English and French. Every country in the world teaches these two, and some of those nations have chosen one of them to serve as their official national tongue. Several languages have had a significant influence on English.

One of the continents where the English language has been widely embraced in Africa. Compared to the UK, which has over 60 million English speakers, Nigeria has about 90 million. The  United States alone has over 24 different dialects of English. A native speaker can tell you that persons from Boston, New York, California, and other cities have distinctive accents.

Classical Languages of the World

Every language with an independent literary tradition and a sizable and lengthy body of written literature is considered to be classical. As spoken languages diverge more from the classical written language over time, classical languages are frequently dead languages or exhibit a high degree of diglossia. Chinese, Sanskrit, Arabic, Greek, and Latin are classical languages of the world.

Classical Languages of India

In India, six languages are currently classified as ‘Classical’:

  • Tamil (declared in 2004),
  • Sanskrit (2005),
  • Kannada (2008),
  • Telugu (2008),
  • Malayalam (2013), and
  • Odia (2014).

List of Official Languages in Different Country

More than 190 official languages from various nations are listed in the table below.

Languages of the World
CountriesOfficial Languages
Algeria, Bahrain, Chad, Comoros, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, YemenArabic
SudanArabic, English
Myanmar (Burma)Burmese
ChinaChinese, Mandarin
Czech RepublicCzech
Belgium, SurinameDutch
Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cameroon, Canada, Fiji, The Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Kiribati, Lesotho, Liberia, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Micronesia, Federated States of Namibia, Nauru, New Zealand, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, South Sudan, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, United Kingdom, United States of America, ZambiaEnglish
SingaporeEnglish, Malay, Chinese, Tamil
PakistanEnglish, Urdu
Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Republic of the Congo, Côte-d’Ivoire, Djibouti, France, Gabon, Haiti, Mali, Monaco, Niger, Senegal, Switzerland, TogoFrench
Austria, Liechtenstein, GermanyGerman
Bolivia, ParaguayGuaraní
IndiaHindi, English
Italy, Vatican City (Holy See)Italian
The Democratic Republic of the CongoKikongo
RwandaKinyarwanda, French, English
North Korea, South KoreaKorean
Malaysia, BruneiMalay
ZimbabweNdebele, English, Shona
PalauPalauan, English
Iran, TajikistanPersian
Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, Sao Tome and PrincipePortuguese
Russia, BelarusRussian
SamoaSamoan, English
San MarinoSan Marino
Central African RepublicSango
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, SerbiaSerbian
SeychellesSeychellois Creole
Sri LankaSinhala, Tamil
South AfricaSotho
Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Philippines, Spain, Uruguay, VenezuelaSpanish
TaiwanStandard Chinese
Kenya, TanzaniaSwahili
UgandaSwahili, English
SwazilandSwati, English
East Timor (Timor-Leste)Tetum
Guinea, Papua New GuineaTok Pisin
Bulgaria, Cyprus, TurkeyTurkish

Important Facts about World Languages

Languages are dynamic and the numbers are constantly in flux. There are approximately 6500 languages in the world, possibly more, many of which are unknown to most people because they are less widely spoken than other languages. According to research, 40% of the world’s languages are now endangered, with fewer than 1,000 speakers remaining, and only 23 languages account for more than half of the world’s population.

With so many languages spoken in the United States, there is no official language; some people believe it is English, but it is not. There are so many settlers that the official language is becoming muddled. A language dies when there is no one to speak it or record it in written form. The dialect dies out, and there are currently 241 extinct languages. Only 23 languages are spoken by more than half of the world’s population. This is in comparison to over 7000 languages.

Papua New Guinea has the greatest number of languages in the world. It has 841 languages, but 40 of them are expected to become extinct because only a few people speak them. Today, French is known as the “love language” around the world. Not only because of the accent, but France and Italy are well-known as romantic destinations, and it also happens to be the most prevalent in these countries.

The Rotokas language is Papuan, and it is known to have only 11 letters. As a result, it is the smallest alphabet. Basque is the only language in the world that is unrelated to any other. It is spoken between Spain and France in the mountains. Russian is one of the most beautiful languages to learn. It’s also considered by most people as the language of war.

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