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List of languages by total number of speakers

This is an approximate list of languages by the total number of speakers. It lists 34 languages having more than 45 million speakers.

Background

Lists such as these should be used with caution, for the following reasons:

  • Second, there is no single criterion for how much knowledge is sufficient to be counted as a second-language speaker. For example, English has about 400 million native speakers but, depending on the criterion chosen, can be said to have as many as 2 billion speakers.[1]

Ethnologue (2019, 23rd edition)

The following 34 languages are listed as having 45 million or more total speakers in the 2019 edition of Ethnologue, a language reference published by SIL International, which is based in the United States.[2] Entries identified by Ethnologue as macrolanguages are not included in this section.

Rank Language Family Branch First language (L1) Second language (L2) Total
No. of
speakers
No. of
speakers
Rank No. of
speakers
Rank
1 English Indo-European Germanic 369.7 million 3 898.4 million 1 1.268 billion[3]
2 Mandarin Chinese (incl. Standard Chinese) Sino-Tibetan Sinitic 921.5 million 1 198.7 million 4 1.120 billion[4]
3 Hindi Indo-European Indo-Aryan 342.0 million 4 295.3 million 2 637.3 million[5]
4 Spanish Indo-European Romance 463.0 million 2 74.9 million 9 537.9 million[6]
5 French Indo-European Romance 77.3 million 15 199.3 million 3 276.6 million[7]
6 Standard Arabic Afro-Asiatic Semitic 274.0 million 274.0 million[8]
7 Bengali Indo-European Indo-Aryan 228.5 million 5 36.8 million 13 265.2 million[9]
8 Russian Indo-European Slavic 153.6 million 7 104.3 million 6 258.0 million[10]
9 Portuguese Indo-European Romance 227.9 million 6 24.2 million 15 252.2 million[11]
10 Indonesian Austronesian Malayo-Polynesian 43.6 million 24 155.4 million 5 199.0 million[12]
11 Urdu Indo-European Indo-Aryan 69.0 million 18 101.6 million 7 170.6 million[13]
12 German Indo-European Germanic 75.5 million 17 56.1 million 10 131.6 million[14]
13 Japanese Japonic 126.2 million 8 0.1215 million 27 126.4 million[15]
14 Swahili Niger–Congo Bantu 16.2 million 27 82.3 million 8 98.5 million[16]
15 Marathi Indo-European Indo-Aryan 83.1 million 10 12.2 million 17 95.3 million[17]
16 Telugu Dravidian South-Central 82.4 million 11 11.0 million 18 93.0 million[18]
17 Turkish Turkic Oghuz 79.5 million 13 5.7 million 20 85.2 million[19]
18 Yue Chinese (incl. Cantonese) Sino-Tibetan Sinitic 84.5 million 9 0.402 million 24 84.9 million[20]
19 Tamil Dravidian South 77.8 million 14 6.0 million 19 83.8 million[21]
20 Western Punjabi (Lahnda) Indo-European Indo-Aryan 82.8 million[22]
21 Wu Chinese (incl. Shanghainese) Sino-Tibetan Sinitic 81.7 million 12 0.063 million 28 81.8 million[23]
22 Korean Koreanic 79.4 million[24]
23 Vietnamese Austroasiatic Vietic 76.0 million 16 1.0 million 23 77.0 million[25]
24 Hausa Afro-Asiatic Chadic 47.7 million 23 25.0 million 14 72.7 million[26]
25 Javanese Austronesian Malayo-Polynesian 68.3 million[27]
26 Egyptian Arabic Afro-Asiatic Semitic 67.8 million[28]
27 Italian Indo-European Romance 64.6 million 19 3.1 million 22 67.7 million[29]
28 Thai Kra–Dai Zhuang–Tai 20.7 million 26 40.0 million 12 60.7 million[30]
29 Gujarati Indo-European Indo-Aryan 56.5 million 20 4.2 million 21 60.7 million[31]
30 Kannada Dravidian Southern 43.6 million 25 12.9 million 16 56.5 million[32]
31 Persian Indo-European Iranian 55.0 million[33]
32 Bhojpuri Indo-European Indo-Aryan 52.2 million 21 0.160 million 26 52.4 million[34]
33 Southern Min (incl. Hokkien) Sino-Tibetan Sinitic 48.2 million 22 0.387 million 25 48.5 million[35]
34 Filipino Austronesian Malayo-Polynesian 45.0 million 11 45.0 million[36]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ For further examples of mutually intelligible varieties that are often, and even legally, classified as separate languages, see Malay language, Persian language and Serbo-Croatian.

References

  1. ^ Crystal, David (March 2008). "Two thousand million?". English Today. doi:10.1017/S0266078408000023.
  2. ^ "Summary by language size". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2019-03-01.
  3. ^ English at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  4. ^ Chinese, Mandarin at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  5. ^ Hindi at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  6. ^ Spanish at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  7. ^ French at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  8. ^ Arabic, Standard at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  9. ^ Bengali at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  10. ^ Russian at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  11. ^ Portuguese at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  12. ^ Indonesian at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  13. ^ Urdu at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  14. ^ German, Standard at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  15. ^ Japanese at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  16. ^ Swahili at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  17. ^ Marathi at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  18. ^ Telugu at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  19. ^ Turkish at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  20. ^ Chinese, Yue at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  21. ^ Tamil at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  22. ^ Punjabi, Western at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  23. ^ Chinese, Wu at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  24. ^ Korean at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  25. ^ Vietnamese at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  26. ^ Hausa at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  27. ^ Javanese at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  28. ^ Arabic, Egyptian at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  29. ^ Italian at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  30. ^ Thai at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  31. ^ Gujarati at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  32. ^ Kannada at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  33. ^ Persian, Iranian at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  34. ^ Bhojpuri at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  35. ^ Chinese, Min Nan at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  36. ^ Filipino at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)

External links