To start with, we might have heard of many languages which are spoken around the world. However, we don’t usually know the most spoken languages around the world.
Moreover, it is actually a tricky question when someone asks you about the languages which are the most spoken in the world.
Mostly every country has its own official language which is given legal status as well. However, it has to be noted that apart from the country’s official language, there also exists a few other categories like regional, minority, national, and popularly spoken languages that help in identifying how many portions of a country’s population speaks a particular language.
25 Most Spoken Languages Around the World
Don’t get surprised that there are around 6900 languages that are currently spoken by people from different countries in the world. We have compiled the major languages which are most spoken in the world. Additionally, we have included the count of people speaking these languages apart from where they are mostly spoken and their origin.
Let us now get into the 25 most spoken languages around the world as per the 2021 edition of Ethnologue.
Number of Speakers: 1348 Million
Origin: The English language takes its origin from Anglo-Frisian dialects brought to Britain by German tribes Anglo-Saxon migrants) back in the 5th century AD.
English-speaking countries: Australia, Belize, Botswana, Brunei, Cameroon, Canada, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, The Gambia, Ghana, Guyana, India, Ireland, Israel, Lesotho, Liberia, Malaysia, Micronesia, Namibia, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, Somalia, S. Africa, Suriname, Swaziland, Tonga, U.K., U.S., Vanuatu, Zimbabwe, many Caribbean states, Zambia.
Almost 20 percent of the world’s population speaks English today which includes 480 million native English speakers. English also boasts to be the official language for international business.
2. Mandarin Chinese
Number of Speakers: 1120 Million
Origin: The Mandarin language originated in North China
Mandarin Chinese-speaking Places: China, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Mongolia, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand
Mandarin Chinese is one of the most popular languages among the 297 languages spoken in China. This is the largest speaking native language in comparison to any other language as over 70% of Chinese speak this language.
Also, there happens to be a debate, that Mandarin can slowly replace English as the language of international business. However, this does not seem to be possible as most people outside Asia do not know this language.
3. Hindustani (Hindi/Urdu)
Number of Speakers: 600 Million
Origin: Hindi originates from the Indo-European linguistic family. It is a direct descendant of an early form of Vedic Sanskrit which emerged in the 7th century CE
Hindustani-speaking Countries: India, Nepal, Singapore, S. Africa, Uganda, Pakistan (Urdu)
Hindustani refers to Hindi as well as Urdu languages. It is an official language in India whereas Urdu is the official language of Pakistan.
Number of Speakers: 543 Million
Origin: Spanish originated in the Iberian Peninsula of Europe
Spanish-speaking Countries: Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Venezuela, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Cuba, Algeria, Andorra, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Chad, Costa Rica, Dominican Rep., El Salvador, Eq. Guinea, Honduras, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Nicaragua, Niger, Panama, Paraguay, Spain, Togo, Tunisia, United States, Uruguay
Most of the people speaking Spanish are found in Mexico. Also, 41 million people are said to be speaking Spanish as their first language across the United States border. The prediction is that the U.S. can become the most Spanish-speaking country by the end of 2050.
Number of Speakers: 274 Million
Origin: Believed to be originated from the northwest of the Arabian Peninsula
Arabic-speaking countries: Egypt, Sudan, Algeria, Iraq, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria, Tunisia, Somalia, Chad, United Arab Emirates, Lybia, Jordan, Eritrea, UAE, Oman, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, Palestine, Mauritania, Kuwait, Qatar, Qatar, Tanzania, Djibouti, Comoros
The Arabic language which emerged from the Arabian Peninsula is popularly spoken in the Middle East and nearby Asian and African countries.
Number of Speakers: 268 Million
Origin: Bengali is an Indo-Aryan language of the eastern Indian subcontinent that originated from the Magadhi Prakrit, Pāli, and Sanskrit languages.
Bengali-speaking Countries: Bangladesh, India, United Kingdom, United States, Middle East.
While around 100 million people speak Bengali in Bangladesh, there are around 85 million Bengali-speaking people in India.
Number of Speakers: 267 Million
Origin: This is a Romance language that originated from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire
French-speaking Countries: France, Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, Congo-Kinshasa, Congo-Brazzaville, Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, Senegal, Haiti, Benin
French is a popularly spoken language around the world owing to the number of conquests and settlements of France. French is one of two official languages in Canada. Around 78.4 percent of locals in Quebec are said to be speaking in French as their mother tongue.
Number of Speakers: 258 Million
Origin: Russian is an East Slavic language that originated in Eastern Europe
Russian-speaking countries: Belarus, China, Estonia, Georgia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Mongolia, Russia, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, U.S., Uzbekistan
Number of Speakers: 258 Million
Origin: Portuguese originated from Latin in the Western Iberian Peninsula.
Portuguese-speaking Countries: Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, France, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, São Tomé and Príncipe, Macau
Despite Portugal being a small country, the Romance language, Portuguese is widespread, thanks to the Portuguese colonizers, traders as well as missionaries who spread it to different parts of the world.
10. Urdu (excl. Hindi)
Number of Speakers: 230 Million
Origin: The origin of Urdu dates back to the 12th century from the regional Apabhramsha in north India around Delhi
Urdu-speaking Countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, India, Nepal
11. Indonesian (excl. Malay)
Number of Speakers: 199 Million
Origin: The Indonesian language originated from Malay
Indonesian-speaking Countries: Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Netherlands
12. Standard German
Number of Speakers: 135 Million
Origin: Most of the German language emerged from the Indo-European language family’s ancient Germanic branch
Standard German-speaking Countries: Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Czech Rep., Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Paraguay, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Switzerland
Number of Speakers: 126 Million
Origin: It is probably believed to be brought to Japan by migrants from the Korean Peninsula around 700–300 B.C
Japanese-speaking Countries: Japan, Palau, U.S., Brazil
Number of Speakers: 99 Million
Origin: Marathi is part of the Indo-Aryan language family which originated from early forms of Prakrit
Marathi-speaking Countries: India (Maharashtra state)
Number of Speakers: 96 Million
Origin: Telugu language origin dates back to the 6th century derived from the Proto-Dravidian language.
Telugu-speaking Countries: India, South Africa, United States
Number of Speakers: 88 Million
Origin: The Turkish language originated around 1300 years ago in a region of East Asia.
Turkish-speaking Countries: Turkey, Germany, Bulgaria, Iraq, Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania along with few other regions of Eastern Europe.
Number of Speakers: 85 Million
Origin: The Tamil language originated from the Proto Dravidian language whose existence is said to be before 500 BC.
Tamil-speaking Countries: India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, South Africa, Mauritius
18. Yue Chinese (incl. Cantonese)
Number of Speakers: 85 Million
Origin: Yue Chinese language has been descended from Middle Chinese directly
Yue Chinese-speaking Places: Guangdong, Guangxi, Hong Kong, Macau, Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and Cambodia), Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, and the United States
19. Wu Chinese (incl. Shanghainese)
Number of Speakers: 82 Million
Origin: The origin of Wu Chinese dates back to over 3,000 years and is the most ancient of the six major southern varieties of Chinese languages
Wu Chinese-speaking Places: Shanghai, southeastern province of Jiangsu, Zhejiang province, China (Hangzhou, Shanghai, Suzhou, Ningpo, and Wenzhou)
Number of Speakers: 82 Million
Origin: The Korean language is said to be a member of the Altaic family of languages whose origin occurred in northern Asia
Korean-speaking Places: South Korea, North Korea, Japan, United States, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands
Number of Speakers: 77 million
Origin: Vietnamese is an Austroasiatic language that took its origin from Vietnam (The national and official language in Vietnam is Vietnamese)
Vietnamese-speaking Countries: Vietnam, Cambodia, United States, Australia, Canada, China, Côte d’Ivoire, Finland, France, Germany, Laos, Martinique, Netherlands, New Caledonia, Norway, Philippines, Senegal, Thailand, United Kingdom, and Vanuatu.
Number of Speakers: 75 million
Origin: There is not much clarity about the origin of the Hausa language. It is said to take its origin from West Africa
Hausa-speaking Places: Northern Nigeria and Niger, northern Ghana, Cameroon, Chad, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Fulani, Tuareg, Kanuri, Gur, Shuwa Arab, as well as other Afro-Asiatic speaking groups.
23. Iranian Persian (excl. Dari and Tajik)
Number of Speakers: 74 Million
Origin: Iranian Persian (Persian, Western Persian, or Farsi) originated in Fars (Persia) in southwestern Iran. Its grammar is similar to that of many European languages.
Iranian Persian-speaking Places: Iran, Iraq, Persian Gulf states.
24. Egyptian Spoken Arabic (excl. other Arabic dialects)
Number of Speakers: 70 Million
Origin: This language originated from the Quranic Arabic in Lower Egypt’s Nile Delta (around the capital Cairo)
Egyptian Spoken Arabic-speaking Countries: Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen
Number of Speakers: 69 Million
Origin: Swahili language origin comes from the Bantu languages of the east coast of Africa
Swahili-speaking Countries: Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Comoros Islands, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi, Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia.