Arguably, it is not easy to determine which are the 10 most popular languages in the world today. But even without relying on the accuracy of an exact science, this can still be done. It is possible to use different analytical linguistic parameters such as Document Translation of various languages to find out the ones that are widely used in different parts of the world.
There are several ways of doing this, and one of the quickest methods is looking at available data.
Reliance on Data by Various Language Experts
You can rely on the data compiled by various institutional experts on languages. However, such data is often subject to a lot of controversy and is never conclusive at any one given time! For instance, there are many language analyses doing the round, but which cannot agree on what makes up a language and the defining lines between several dialects.
It can sometimes get impossibly confusing to assign any concrete data like X millions of speakers to a language like Chinese or Hindi both of which are an umbrella term for a host of varying minor and major dialects.
But barring these difficulties and the other research hiccups associated with the reliability of the data sources, you can safely and confidently make a judgement by simply looking at the number of users who are not native speakers, but who frequently apply a specific language in their social or business interactions.
That might seem a hard thing to do, but not when you think of obtaining comparison data from language agencies that provide over-the-phone interpreter services. This too can be a bit tricky if you consider that there are presently over 7000 languages in use in the entire world!
Not all of the existing dialects are popular. So, for those who may have a compelling necessity to learn a foreign language either for educational, commercial, or just for its snob value, here is a list of the commonly spoken international tongues.
This ranking is based on data desegregated by the native, non-native speakers who use the languages, and the separate dialects that can be treated as independent languages. Bear in mind the ranking here is based on fluid estimates that are not engraved in concrete.
#10 The Indonesian Language
The important claim to popularity this language has is mainly due to its politeness in the Eastern culture.
#9 The Portuguese Language
Just like the other key languages, the popularity and spread of the Portuguese owes a lot to the colonial expansion era. Having origins in Latin, it is closely linked to contemporary Spanish.
#8: The Russian Language
Although a superpower, the Russians seem not to have been keen on spreading their language. But still it is widely spoken in most of the countries that made up the former communist bloc. It is the largest of the Slavic languages.
# 7: The Bengali Language
This language is widely spoken in parts of India and Bangladesh. English speakers refer to it as Bangla. Notably, it has the fifth commonest writing system. Some people believe that after the French it is the second most charming language.
#6 The Arabic Language
Ignoring the claim that Arabic is not a single language but a cluster of different dialects, it is now a major world language due to the influence of the Islamic religion. With its origin in the Arabian Peninsula, the medieval crusaders spread it far and wide especially across North Africa and Asia.
It has heavily influenced other languages like the Portuguese, the English and the Spanish languages. Its most unique characteristic is that it is the only language written backwards from the right to the left. And in matters of romance, it is the only language with a specific word for every level of falling in love. Something interesting to learn, don’t you think?
#5 The French Language
Regarded as the language of love and romance, the French language is widely used in all the continents. It is the second official language of the United Nations. Interestingly, about 45 percent of the English language words have origins in French.
As for it being a romantic language, maybe that is just a Hollywood hype!
#4 The Spanish Language
Something interesting about the Spanish language is that in terms of scope and breadth, it is the second most widely spoken language in the world. But in terms of numbers it is ranked fourth. You might be interested in finding out just what accounts for this contradiction, right?
Here we go: the Spanish conquistadores and explorers did a good job of spreading their language wherever they went. And after the Bible, the book mostly translated is a novel written in Spanish by Miguel de Cervantes known as Don Quixote.
But that is not all! It is the official language in over 20 countries spread throughout the world, and maybe that is why there is a surge in demand for exceptionally competent Spanish Interpreter services. What’s more, it is the most widely studied foreign language after English.
#3: The Hindi Language
If we are to go by the native numbers only, then Hindi should be the most popular language after Mandarin. You certainly don’t need reminding that the most populous place on earth after China is India. Under the wings of the Hindi language are other major dialects like Punjabi, Bengali, Nepali, Kashmiri and Marathi.
But perhaps what earns it a prestigious linguistic ranking is the fact that the English language has borrowed some jargon from Hindi. Sample the following: karma, avatar, jungle, yoga cheetah, bungalow and hey, there is guru? Now you know that these are not originally English!
#2: The English Language
Two facts taken together make the English language the most widely spoken if not the most popular. The first reason which is historical in nature goes back to the expansionist era of the British empire when the language was literally fostered on the conquered territories. Secondly, the economic clout of the USA plus her cultural imperialism contributes majorly in the diffusion of English as an international language of politics, diplomacy, and commerce.
By acquiring new vocabulary from almost all the other major languages, English may soon be the world’s lingua franca! Don’t you forget that it is the dominant language of the Skies… yes, all pilots in the world MUST demonstrate the ability to identify themselves by speaking this language fluently.
#1: The Chinese Mandarin Language:
The sheer number of the native speakers alone makes this language spoken by the Chinese take the top position. Apart from being the official language in Singapore, Taiwan, and of course the populous mainland China, it is also among the top 5 official languages of the United Nations.
If you are to go by the number of the natives only, then no other people beat the Chinese in numbers. On that score alone, they qualify to be at the top. Add the fact that China is globally the second largest economy with which every nation in the world wishes to have ties, you cannot fail to see why it is ranking highest in popularity.
For now, the soaring popularity of the Chinese Mandarin can directly be attributed to the Corona virus. Sounds ironical, but if you tie in the race to find a vaccine, and China’s seeming success in containing the spread of the disease, you cannot miss the logic. After all, there are talks of information and patent theft even before a cure is found! The fierce competition on the medical and technological frontiers may spike up anyone’s interest in learning Mandarin.
Now that you know, which language would you rather learn?