Learning a language can be fun and interesting, but do you know how many languages there are in the world? How about which language has the most speakers and the country with the most languages? If you like language trivia, check out our amazing language facts.
- If you have ever wondered how many languages there are, this will blow your mind. There are about 7,000 living languages in the world! In fact, it’s estimated that about half the world’s languages have fewer than 3,000 people who speak them.
- About 500 languages are on the edge of extinction with only a small number of people still speaking them. Many of those languages will probably go extinct in the next few decades unless more people learn the language. Linguists around the world try to write and record those languages so if they do go extinct, they will not be totally lost to the world. There are even some languages in which only one living person speaks it and it will probably disappear when that person dies.
- There are certain languages that are most popular for use in the business world. For instance, there are six official languages of the United Nations. These are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.
- India has 23 official languages!
- If you have ever wondered how many people speak sign language, you’ll be interested to know that an estimated 250,000 to 500,000 people use American Sign Language. ASL is used in the United States, but there are multiple sign languages used in other countries. ASL consists of forming words with the hands, and finger spelling, but it also uses facial expressions, body movements, spatial significance and gestures to communicate.
- The country with the most number of languages spoken is Papua New Guinea. The 7.9 million people there speak an estimated 850 different languages. In fact, people living in different valleys or even just across a river from each other often speak different languages because the mountainous, jungle terrain there makes travel very difficult. Historically, different groups of people were cut off from each other and couldn’t or didn’t interact which led to the wide diversity in languages.
- The country with the second largest number of languages is Indonesia, which has about 742 languages spoken. It’s not surprising there are so many languages since Indonesia is comprised of 18,307 islands (according to National Institute of Aeronautics and Space). However, most of the 260 million residents of Indonesia live on the larger islands.
- The next countries with the highest number of different languages are Nigeria with 516 languages and India with 427. You may be surprised to learn there are 311 languages spoken in the United States and 297 in Mexico. Cameroon has 280 and Australia has 275 (CIA World Fact Book)
- Have you ever wondered what is the most widely spoken language? The language with the most native speakers is Mandarin Chinese. About 1 billion, 197 thousand people speak Mandarin as their mother tongue. The language with the second most native speakers is Spanish with 414 million followed by English with 335 million native speakers. Next comes Hindi with 260 million native speakers, then Arabic with 237 million speakers. Rounding out the top ten are Portuguese (203 million), Bengali (193 million), Russian (167 million), Japanese (122 million) and Javanese (84 million).
- About one out of every six people in the world speaks Mandarin.
- Have you ever wondered which language has the least number of words? In the South American country of Suriname, a language called Taki Taki contains only 340 words. Ironically, for a language with so few words, it actually has two names. It can also be called Sranan. It is an English-based Creole spoken by about 120,000 people.
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