A language is more than a form of communication between people from the same area. It embodies their history and tells the story of their people. Here are the five languages with the most native speakers in the world.
- Mandarin Chinese – 918 million speakers
Mandarin Chinese originates from China, the world’s most populous country, with 1.4 billion people. China is a culturally-diverse nation with many different spoken languages and dialects, but most people’s primary and day-to-day language is Mandarin.
- Pakistani-Indian-Bengali languages – ~900 million speakers
The Indian peninsula is home to some of the world’s most complex language systems. Due to independent growth, many regions in the area speak different languages, despite close proximity. The most prominent language spoken in this area is Hindi, the day-to-day language in India.
- Spanish – 480 million speakers
Spanish comes from Spain, a country with only 47 million people. However, due to Spain’s colonization from the 15th century onward, Spanish has made its way to all corners of the world. 20 countries currently speak Spanish, most of which are heavily concentrated in the Americas, as they were once part of New Spain.
- English – 379 million speakers
English spread in a similar fashion as Spanish, through imperialism and colonialism. But many of Britain’s imperial possessions were not as populated as Spain’s, lowering the number of people who speak it as a first language. The rise and expansion of the United States, however, made it the language of business, travel, and international affairs. 700 million people speak English as a second language.
- All forms of Arabic – 315 million speakers
Arabic exists in all but a few countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Arabic tribes spread the language when moving out of the Arabian peninsula and later expanded throughout the region by the many Muslim Caliphates during the Middle Ages. Almost every Arabic-speaking country has their own dialect. However, there is a standard variation of Arabic in every country.