- "Maps courtesy of www.theodora.com/maps used with permission"
In case you find it as interesting as I did, here is the list (according to www.geographic.org) of the top ten most popular languages in the world. See the map above and this full list of the top 50 languages.
|1. Mandarin||(1120 Million)|
|9. Japanese |
** note this list was updated Oct.1 to correct errors in list tabulation that omitted Spanish! Apologies for confusion and thanks Kean for correcting!
As is often the case with these kinds of lists and large scale estimations, we need to keep in mind that there are many different ways of counting and measuring things, such as the amount of people who speak a given language. Do you only count the first or native language? Do you group dialects together? What constitutes fluency? To prove my point, I've picked two other equally interesting lists of language by population that you can find here and here. No doubt there are many more to be found by simply searching online.
What these lists and maps don't show us is how these languages are spreading throughout the world based on both the movement of people from their country of birth to other countries for work or through marriage for example, as well as the spread of languages via people learning new ones, organizations setting up offices, factories, and other operations around the world, etc.
In the next 25 years or so, especially with the augmentation and acceleration of language-based technology and translation, I wonder if we are headed for a world that is "colorblind" when it comes to languages, and the need for these maps becomes somewhat obsolete?