‘Shem’s Idle Notes’: Top 10 Most Spoken Languages

…continued from last week.5.  Arabic (221 million speakers)Arabic is a member of the Semitic language family. Arabic is most often identified with the Middle East and North Africa, and is the official language of 26 countries.Alongside Hebrew, it is the official language of Israel, and has large populations of speakers in both Europe and North America.

…continued from last week.

5.  Arabic (221 million speakers)

Arabic is a member of the Semitic language family. Arabic is most often identified with the Middle East and North Africa, and is the official language of 26 countries.

Alongside Hebrew, it is the official language of Israel, and has large populations of speakers in both Europe and North America.

Common Arabic phrases include: as-salaamu ‘alaikum (Peace be with you) a formal greeting, Na’am (yes), and ismaHli (excuse me).

4.  Hindi-Urdu (242 million speakers)

Hindi-Urdu is a member of the Indo-Aryan family, alongside Bengali. Hindi is the official language of India, whilst Urdu is the official language of Pakistan.  Urdu and Hindi are also spoken in parts of Europe and North America.

3.  English (328 Million speakers)

English is a member of the West Germanic language family.  It originally sprouted from the Anglo-Saxon language (Old English) and borrowed heavily from Latin and French due to the Norman conquest of England.

Developed in the British isles, the largest population of English speakers lives in the United States(about 309 million speakers).  

English is the official language of 53 countries, including Ireland, Canada, South Africa, Jamaica, and New Zealand, and is the de facto language of the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom.  It also has large speaking populations in several African and Oceanian countries, and is a “subsidiary official language” in India.

English is also an official language of several organizations, including the UN, NATO, and the European Union.

2.  Spanish (329 million speakers)

Spanish is a member of the Romance languages, closely related to Portuguese.  Spanish is one of the most widely distributed languages in the world; it is the official language of over 20 countries, and is the official language of nearly every state in Latin America, excepting Brazil and Belize.

Large populations of native speakers have immigrated to the United States, and Spanish is now one of the most common languages in the American southwest.  

It is also one of the six official languages of the United Nations.
Common Spanish phrases include hola (hello), Que pase un buen día (Have a good day), and ¿Cómo te llamas? (What is your name?).

1.  Mandarin (over 845 million speakers)

Mandarin is often called Chinese by non-speakers, but it is in fact only one of many Chinese languages, which include Cantonese and Xiang, in the Sino-Tibetan language family.

Mandarin is the largest of the Chinese languages, and is the official language of the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan.  

It is also one of four official languages of Singapore. immigration has also brought large number of mandarin speakers to the United States and Europe.  Mandarin has two writing systems; Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese.

Common Mandarin phrases include N? h?o! (Hello!), W? míngzi jiào… (My name is…), and Hu?nyíng! (You’re welcome!)

Note: French is the 17th most widely spoken language in the world, with 128 million "native and real speakers" (includes 65 million French people, 72 million "bilinguals"). French is also one of the six official languages of the United Nations.

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