So Many Languages

There are approximately 7100 living languages and dialects spoken around the world. The number of languages changes over time as new information and research comes to light and as some languages become extinct. Roughly forty percent of the world’s living languages are currently endangered.

Only twenty-three languages account for more than half the world’s population. 

As of March 2022, the twenty most spoken languages in the world:

  1. English
  2. Chinese (Mandarin/Guoyu)
  3. Hindi
  4. Spanish
  5. French
  6. Standard Arabic
  7. Bengali
  8. Russian
  9. Portuguese
  10. Urdu
  11. Indonesian
  12. Standard German
  13. Japanese
  14. Nigerian Pidgin
  15. Marathi
  16. Telugu
  17. Turkish
  18. Tamil
  19. Yue Chinese
  20. Vietnamese
“Language barrier might widen gaps in learning” by World Bank Photo Collection. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Eberhard, David M., Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2022. Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Twenty-fifth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online version: