Language is the way human beings express their thoughts and emotions to other people. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to share our inner workings with other people, share and exchange ideas, and grow as people.
Modern language has been around even before we evolved properly as Homo sapiens. So, naturally, different people speak different languages around the world.
All of them serve a common purpose though: to express our thoughts with each other and have a solid form of communication. Today, let’s look at 10 of the most spoken languages in 2021.
Without a surprise, first on our list we have English. English is the most spoken language in the world, with over 1.3 billion people speaking the language worldwide. It first originated in Britain, coming from migrants from what is now Northwest Germany. Today, English is the first language for most western countries.
Countries like the United States of America, Britain, Canada, and so on widely speak English. Almost in every country of the world, English is either the first or the second language. This makes it the most popular language in the world. So if you know basic or proper English, you can make it almost anywhere in the world.
Mandarin is the second most spoken language, with over 1.1 billion people speaking Mandarin worldwide. There are several dialects in the Chinese language, and Mandarin is the most widely spoken among them. It’s mostly spoken in China, specifically in northern and southwestern China. More than 70% of Chinese speakers speak in Mandarin.
Mandarin has more than 50,000 different characters and has 4 distinct tones of speaking. This makes it one of the hardest languages to learn in the world. But knowing it will definitely come in handy because alongside China, countries like Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong have Mandarin as their official language. It’s also widely used in America. So, Mandarin is surely one of the most popular languages in the world.
Next on our list, we have Hindi, with over 600 million people worldwide speaking the language. Hindi is one of the official languages of India. It’s mostly spoken in Northern India. Hindi was actually the fourth most spoken language in the world, coming after English, Mandarin, and Spanish, but now it has taken the spot of Spanish as the 3rd most popular.
Hindi has an Indo-Aryan and Indo-European origin, and the English language has adopted a lot of words from Hindi like Pajamas, Juggernaut, Jungle, and much more. The language also has similarities with Urdu and Bengali, which we’ll visit later on in the last.
Spanish is the chief language of Spain, and also a popular language around the world, with more than 540 million people using it worldwide. Spanish is a Romance language and has Indo-European origins just like Hindi. The Spanish language is a close descendant of the Latin language.
Spanish is a phonetic language and is called both Castellano and Español. 21 countries use it as an official language, so if you know Spanish, you can interact with people in a lot of countries at ease.
Arabic is the fifth most spoken language in the world. With around 275 million people speaking it worldwide, it’s definitely very popular around the globe. Arabic is mostly spoken within the Arabian Peninsula, with countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Arabic had an important role in science, philosophy, and maths in the earlier days. Many notable Arab scholars paved the way for modern science to flourish, and all their writings were done in Arabic. Arabic is also the language of the religion Islam. Its holy books and scriptures are all written in this language. It is therefore considered a holy language to a lot of people.
Next on our list we have Bengali, a language spoken by 268 million people worldwide. Bengali is the official language of Bangladesh — a country that fought for its independence in disputes over what should be the nation’s official language — hence the country’s naming. The language has Indo-Aryan roots similar to that of Hindi and is also an official language in India.
Most Bengali speakers are actually from Bangladesh and India. Interestingly enough, the Indian national anthem was actually first written in Bengali. The language is also an official language in countries like Sierra Leone.
Just like Spanish, French is also a Romance language, with over 265 million people worldwide using it. French is the national language of France, but is also widely used in many countries such as the US and Canada. Canada’s Quebec actually just uses French every day, with universities and stores all using French. The language is part of the Indo-European family, thus having similar ties with Spanish, Hindi, and other languages.
Besides English, French is another highly regarded diplomatic language in the world. Almost 45% of English words actually got their origins from French. It’s a second language in a lot of countries in the world.
The Russian language is the 8th most popular language in the world, with over 255 million speaking it worldwide. It’s the national language of Russia — the largest country in terms of landmass. Alongside English, the Russian language is also a highly regarded diplomatic language, just like French.
Many English words get their origins from the Russian language. Also, it’s the language of space. The International Space Station has computer systems that use both English and Russian, so almost all astronauts have to learn the language in their training program.
Next on our list, we have Portuguese, the national language of Portugal with about 255 million speakers, just below Russia. Portuguese is the official language of 9 different countries. It’s the most spoken language in Latin America after Spanish, and is among the top 10 most spoken languages in Africa.
Fun fact: a country or person who speaks Portuguese is called a Lusophone.
Finally, in rank 10 for the most spoken languages in 2021 we have Urdu — with about 230 million people using the language worldwide. It’s the official language of Pakistan, and has close ties with other Indo-Aryan languages like Hindi and Bengali as mentioned above. Urdu is sometimes referred to as the Persian form of the Hindi language.
Just like Hindi, Urdu also contributes a lot to the English language. Many Hindi and Urdu words also share similarities in meaning. In recent days, the popularity of Urdu has been increasing, and thus its the 10 most spoken language in the world right now.