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What is the Most Spoken language in the World, and Where is it Spoken?

In a globalized world, it is becoming increasingly important for people to learn foreign languages to communicate efficiently. Shifts in the global business environment and the emergence of new economies have seen certain languages gaining in popularity.

Learning the most spoken languages in the world can help you land a job, get a business deal, or explore opportunities in education. Since you are likely to encounter the native speakers of these languages, it will help with communication and give you a better understanding of the world around you. However, with over 7,000 languages around the world, it can be difficult to know the most important ones. Furthermore, the sheer number of languages makes translation editing and proofreading a difficult task. Below are a few things to know about the most spoken languages in the world.

Differences Between a Native Speaker and Overall Speakers

Native speakers are those who speak a specific language as their first language, while overall speakers learn it online or at language schools. Native speakers understand the different connotations of a language, including popular slang.

So, what are the most spoken languages in the world? In order to answer this question, there are a number of factors that need to be taken into account. For starters, you will have to decide whether you will rank the languages based on the number of native speakers or the total number of people who speak them. Secondly, understand which dialects need to be considered as separate languages, as this affects a language’s standing in the most spoken language rankings. With that in mind, here are the most spoken languages.

  • Mandarin Chinese: Mandarin Chinese is the biggest language under what is known as the Chinese group of languages. A total of 1.1 people speak the language; 897 million native speakers and 193 million non-natives.
  • English: English is well-established as one of the most spoken languages. With 371 million native speakers and 611 million non-native speakers, a total of 983 million people speak the language.
  • Hindustani: Hindustani is made up of two dialects of the same language. The language has a total of 544 million speakers: 329 million native speakers and 215 million non-natives.
  • Spanish: By native speakers, the 436 million people who speak the language make it the second biggest language in the world. However, the 91 million non-natives bring the total number to 527 million, putting Spanish at number four.
  • Arabic: An official language of 26 countries and the language of Islam, there are 290 million native Arabic speakers. With an additional 132 million non-natives, the total number of speakers is 422 million.
  • Malay: Linguistically diverse, Malay is the official language of several countries. There are a total of 281 million speakers: 77 million and 204 million native and non-native speakers, respectively.
  • Russian: Russian is not only the largest language in Europe by the number of native speakers but also the official language of four countries. There are 153 million native speakers and 113 million non-natives, bringing the total number of speakers to 267 million.
  • Bengali: A total of 261 million around the world speak Bengali, with 242 million of them being native speakers and 19 million being non-natives.
  • Portuguese: The language that is closely related to modern Spanish developed into Latin. Today, there are 218 million native speakers and 11 million non-natives, putting the total number of speakers at 229 million.
  • French: The romance language rounds up the top 10. With 76 million native speakers and 153 million non-natives, a total of 229 million people speak French.

Which Languages are Used Primarily for Business?

A few years ago, you only needed one language to communicate when doing business, English. However, the face of international business has changed remarkably, with the world becoming more interconnected and new superpowers emerging. So many changes have taken place that people who speak no other key business language apart from English are at a significant disadvantage. As such, it is necessary to know the languages that are used primarily for business so you can pick the ones to focus on.

Today, English remains the most widely spoken language in the world, a factor that has made it the lingua franca. With the large number of English speakers around the world, it is the dominant language in global communication, especially on the internet. This influence is widely attributed to the historical dominance of the British as well as the economic and cultural influence of the United States. However, apart from English, there are several other languages that entrepreneurs and business professionals should learn. Learning these languages will help them to communicate clearly with their customers, business partners, employees, and other stakeholders. Some of the most important languages in the world of international business are Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and Mandarin Chinese.

With this in mind, it will help you a great deal if you dedicate yourself to picking up an additional language. Speaking an extra language will help you compete with your competitors and relate better with the native speakers. If you are really motivated, you can think of learning other critical languages for business, such as French, Arabic, and Hindi.

Where are English and Chinese Being Used?

There is no doubt that English and Mandarin Chinese are among the most spoken languages worldwide. However, to understand where the two languages are used, it is important to look at the number of native and non-native speakers. Here is part of the information you need to know.

In several countries around the world, English is mainly the native language. These include the United Kingdom, the United States, the Republic of Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The language is also widely spoken in certain areas of Africa, South Asia, and the Caribbean. Today, the lingua franca of business, international relations, and travel has spread widely. It is no wonder that the number of non-native speakers is almost double that of native speakers. English has dominated the world stage for many decades and is expected to remain the dominant language for the foreseeable future.

For Mandarin Chinese, the situation is quite different. While it is the most spoken language in the world, most of the people who speak the language are native speakers. As much as one in every six people in the world speaks the language, it is mainly spoken in Mainland China, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Singapore.

The number of languages that are important for business are on the rise. As such, people have to learn an extra language if they are to take advantage of the numerous opportunities that globalization presents. Translation services help to ensure that you communicate with your target audience accurately and clearly in their native language. Etcetera Language Group offers quality translation services in dozens of languages. Contact us today to learn more about our services.