Have you ever wondered which language has the highest number of speakers in the world? Is it English? No. French? not at all. Must be Spanish. No way amigos! Along with the ever-growing global population and inter-continental migrations, the number of speakers of a particular language keeps changing.
However, to surprise of many, Mandarin (the official language of China) is the language spoken by the highest number of people in the world. And you guessed the reason, didn’t you? Yes China is the most populated country, hence Mandarin the language spoken by the highest number of people. As simple as that! The total number of Mandarin speakers is a whopping 1.9 billion at the time this blog was written. Among them nearly 900 million are native speakers and the rest (more than 190 million) are second language speakers.
English comes second with an impressive 983 million speakers. English is also considered as the ‘world language’ as it is used internationally (geographical distribution) and is learned and spoken by a large number of people as a second language in almost every country in the world. Another interesting thing about English is that the number of people who speak this language as their second language is more than that of the native speakers i.e., 611 million and 377 million respectively.
The third most widely spoken language is Hindustani (Hindi/Urdu). Close to 550 million people use modern Hindi and Urdu language worldwide. As Hindi and Urdu are mutually intelligible, they are considered by linguists to be dialects of the same language. With a seemingly uncontrollable population growth in Hindustani speaking countries, the speakers of this language are likely explode in the coming decades.
With a total number of 527 million speakers, Spanish enjoys the fourth position in the list. However this language deserves the second position, second only to Mandarin, if only the native speakers are counted because 436 million of the total Spanish speakers use it as their mother tongue.
Arabic is the fifth language in the list with its more than 420 million speakers worldwide. This language is the lingua franca (common language of communication) in the Arab World. Arabic-speaking countries include Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Oman, Egypt etc.