List of languages by number of native speakers

Current distribution of human language families

This article ranks human languages by their number of native speakers.

However, all such rankings should be used with caution, because it is not possible to devise a coherent set of linguistic criteria for distinguishing languages in a dialect continuum.[1]For example, a language is often defined as a set of varieties that are mutually intelligible, but independent national standard languages may be considered to be separate languages even though they are largely mutually intelligible, as in the case of Danish and Norwegian.[2]Conversely, many commonly accepted languages, including German, Italian and even English, encompass varieties that are not mutually intelligible.[1]While Arabic is sometimes considered a single language centred on Modern Standard Arabic, other authors describe its mutually unintelligible varieties as separate languages.[3]Similarly, Chinese is sometimes viewed as a single language due to shared culture and a single written form.It is also common to describe various Chinese dialect groups, such as Mandarin, Wu and Yue, as languages, even though each of these groups contains many mutually unintelligible varieties.[4]

There are also difficulties in obtaining reliable counts of speakers, which vary over time due to population change and language shift.In some areas, there is no reliable census data, the data is not current, or the census may not record languages spoken, or record them ambiguously.Sometimes speaker populations are exaggerated for political reasons, or speakers of minority languages may be under-reported in favour of a national language.[5]

Top languages by population

Nationalencyklopedin (2010)

The following table contains the top 100 languages by estimated number of native speakers in the 2007 edition of the Swedish encyclopedia Nationalencyklopedin. As census methods in different countries vary to a considerable extent, and given that some countries do not record language in their censuses, any list of languages by native speakers, or total speakers, is effectively based on estimates. Updated estimates from 2010 are also provided.[6]

The top eleven languages have additional figures from the 2010 edition of the Nationalencyklopedin. Numbers above 95 million are rounded off to the nearest 5 million.

Top languages by population per Nationalencyklopedin
Rank Language Native
speakers
in millions
2007 (2010)
Percentage
of world
population
(2007)
1 Mandarin (entire branch) 935 (955) 14.1%
2 Spanish 390 (405) 5.85%
3 English 365 (360) 5.52%
4 Hindi[a] 295 (310) 4.46%
5 Arabic 280 (295) 4.23%
6 Portuguese 205 (215) 3.08%
7 Bengali (Bangla) 200 (205) 3.05%
8 Russian 160 (155) 2.42%
9 Japanese 125 (125) 1.92%
10 Punjabi 95 (100) 1.44%
11 German 92 (95) 1.39%
12 Javanese 82 1.25%
13 Wu (inc. Shanghainese) 80 1.20%
14 Malay (inc. Indonesian and Malaysian) 77 1.16%
15 Telugu 76 1.15%
16 Vietnamese 76 1.14%
17 Korean 76 1.14%
18 French 75 1.12%
19 Marathi 73 1.10%
20 Tamil 70 1.06%
21 Urdu 66 0.99%
22 Turkish 63 0.95%
23 Italian 59 0.90%
24 Yue (inc. Cantonese) 59 0.89%
25 Thai 56 0.85%
26 Gujarati 49 0.74%
27 Jin 48 0.72%
28 Southern Min (inc. Hokkien and Teochew) 47 0.71%
29 Persian 45 0.68%
30 Polish 40 0.61%
31 Pashto 39 0.58%
32 Kannada 38 0.58%
33 Xiang 38 0.58%
34 Malayalam 38 0.57%
35 Sundanese 38 0.57%
36 Hausa 34 0.52%
37 Odia (Oriya) 33 0.50%
38 Burmese 33 0.50%
39 Hakka 31 0.46%
40 Ukrainian 30 0.46%
41 Bhojpuri 29[b] 0.43%
42 Tagalog (Filipino) 28 0.42%
43 Yoruba 28 0.42%
44 Maithili 27[b] 0.41%
45 Uzbek 26 0.39%
46 Sindhi 26 0.39%
47 Amharic 25 0.37%
48 Fula 24 0.37%
49 Romanian 24 0.37%
50 Oromo 24 0.36%
51 Igbo 24 0.36%
52 Azerbaijani 23 0.34%
53 Awadhi 22[b] 0.33%
54 Gan 22 0.33%
55 Cebuano (Visayan) 21 0.32%
56 Dutch 21 0.32%
57 Kurdish 21 0.31%
58 Serbo-Croatian 19 0.28%
59 Malagasy 18 0.28%
60 Saraiki 17[c] 0.26%
61 Nepali 17 0.25%
62 Sinhalese 16 0.25%
63 Chittagonian 16 0.24%
64 Zhuang 16 0.24%
65 Khmer 16 0.24%
66 Turkmen 16 0.24%
67 Assamese 15 0.23%
68 Madurese 15 0.23%
69 Somali 15 0.22%
70 Marwari 14[b] 0.21%
71 Magahi 14[b] 0.21%
72 Haryanvi 14[b] 0.21%
73 Hungarian 13 0.19%
74 Chhattisgarhi 12[b] 0.19%
75 Greek 12 0.18%
76 Chewa 12 0.17%
77 Deccan 11 0.17%
78 Akan 11 0.17%
79 Kazakh 11 0.17%
80 Northern Min[disputed ] 10.9 0.16%
81 Sylheti 10.7 0.16%
82 Zulu 10.4 0.16%
83 Czech 10.0 0.15%
84 Kinyarwanda 9.8 0.15%
85 Dhundhari 9.6[b] 0.15%
86 Haitian Creole 9.6 0.15%
87 Eastern Min (inc. Fuzhou dialect) 9.5 0.14%
88 Ilocano 9.1 0.14%
89 Quechua 8.9 0.13%
90 Kirundi 8.8 0.13%
91 Swedish 8.7 0.13%
92 Hmong 8.4 0.13%
93 Shona 8.3 0.13%
94 Uyghur 8.2 0.12%
95 Hiligaynon/Ilonggo (Visayan) 8.2 0.12%
96 Mossi 7.6 0.11%
97 Xhosa 7.6 0.11%
98 Belarusian 7.6[d] 0.11%
99 Balochi 7.6 0.11%
100 Konkani 7.4 0.11%
Total 5,610 85%

Ethnologue (2019, 22nd edition)

The following 90 languages are listed as having at least 10 million first language speakers in the 2019 edition of Ethnologue, a language reference published by SIL International, which is based in the United States.[8]

Languages with at least 10 million first-language speakers[8]
Rank Rank Language Primary Country Total
Countries[e]
Speakers
(millions)
Macrolanguage Language family
Branch
1 Chinese (macrolanguage) China 39 1,311 Sino-Tibetan
Sinitic
1 Mandarin China 13 918 Chinese Sino-Tibetan
Sinitic
2 2 Spanish Spain 31 460 Indo-European
Romance
3 3 English United Kingdom 137 379 Indo-European
Germanic
4 4 Hindi India 4 341 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
5 Arabic (macrolanguage) Saudi Arabia 59 319 Afroasiatic
Semitic
5 6 Bengali Bangladesh 4 228 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
6 7 Portuguese Portugal 15 221 Indo-European
Romance
7 8 Russian Russian Federation 19 154 Indo-European
Balto-Slavic
8 9 Japanese Japan 2 128 Japonic
Japanese
10 Lahnda (macrolanguage) Pakistan 6 119 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
9 Western Punjabi Pakistan 2 92.7 Lahnda Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
10 11 Marathi India 1 83.1 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
11 12 Telugu India 2 82.0 Dravidian
South-Central
12 Wu China 1 81.4 Chinese Sino-Tibetan
Sinitic
13 Malay (macrolanguage) Malaysia 20 80.3 Austronesian
Malayo-Polynesian
13 14 Turkish Turkey 8 79.4 Turkic
Oghuz
14 15 Korean South Korea 6 77.3 Koreanic
language isolate
15 16 French France 54 77.2 Indo-European
Romance
16 17 German Germany 28 76.1 Indo-European
Germanic
17 18 Vietnamese Viet Nam 4 76.0 Austroasiatic
Vietic
18 19 Tamil India 7 75.0 Dravidian
South
19 Yue China 13 73.1 Chinese Sino-Tibetan
Sinitic
20 20 Urdu Pakistan 7 68.6 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
21 21 Javanese Indonesia 3 68.3 Austronesian
Malayo-Polynesian
22 22 Italian Italy 14 64.8 Indo-European
Romance
23 Egyptian Spoken Arabic Egypt 1 64.6 Arabic Afroasiatic
Semitic
23 Persian (macrolanguage) Iran 30 61.8 Indo-European
Iranian
24 24 Gujarati India 7 56.4 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
25 Iranian Persian Iran 7 52.8 Persian Indo-European
Iranian
26 25 Bhojpuri India 3 53.2 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
27 Min Nan China 10 50.1 Chinese Sino-Tibetan
Sinitic
28 Hakka China 13 48.2 Chinese Sino-Tibetan
Sinitic
29 Jinyu China 1 46.9 Chinese Sino-Tibetan
Sinitic
30 26 Hausa Nigeria 9 43.9 Afroasiatic
Chadic
31 27 Kannada India 1 43.6 Dravidian
South
32 Indonesian Indonesia 1 43.4 Malay Austronesian
Malayo-Polynesian
33 28 Polish Poland 10 39.7 Indo-European
Balto-Slavic
29 Pushto (macrolanguage) Pakistan 5 38.2 Indo-European
Iranian
34 30 Yoruba Nigeria 3 37.8 Niger–Congo
Volta–Niger
35 Xiang Chinese China 1 37.3 Chinese Sino-Tibetan
Sinitic
36 31 Malayalam India 2 37.1 Dravidian
South
32 Oriya (macrolanguage) India 1 37.1 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
37 Odia India 1 34.5 Oriya Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
38 33 Maithili India 2 33.9 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
39 34 Burmese Myanmar 1 32.9 Sino-Tibetan
Lolo-Burmese
40 35 Eastern Punjabi India 3 32.6 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
41 36 Sunda Indonesia 1 32.4 Austronesian
Malayo-Polynesian
42 Sudanese Spoken Arabic Sudan 4 31.9 Arabic Afroasiatic
Semitic
37 Fulah (macrolanguage) Senegal 19 29.8 Niger–Congo
Senegambian
38 Uzbek (macrolanguage) Uzbekistan 8 29.5 Turkic
Karluk
43 Algerian Spoken Arabic Algeria 2 29.4 Arabic Afroasiatic
Semitic
44 Moroccan Spoken Arabic Morocco 3 27.5 Arabic Afroasiatic
Semitic
45 39 Ukrainian Ukraine 9 27.3 Indo-European
Balto-Slavic
46 40 Igbo Nigeria 1 27.0 Niger–Congo
Volta–Niger
47 Northern Uzbek Uzbekistan 6 25.1 Uzbek Turkic
Karluk
48 41 Sindhi Pakistan 3 24.6 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
49 North Levantine Spoken Arabic Syria 5 24.6 Arabic Afroasiatic
Semitic
50 42 Romanian Romania 6 24.3 Indo-European
Romance
51 43 Tagalog Philippines 3 23.6 Austronesian
Malayo-Polynesian
52 44 Dutch Netherlands 7 23.1 Indo-European
Germanic
45 Azerbaijani (macrolanguage) Iran 8 23.0 Turkic
Oghuz
53 Saʽidi Spoken Arabic Egypt 1 22.4 Arabic Afroasiatic
Semitic
46 Kurdish (macrolanguage) Iraq 9 22.1 Indo-European
Iranian
54 Gan China 1 22.1 Chinese Sino-Tibetan
Sinitic
55 47 Amharic Ethiopia 2 21.9 Afroasiatic
Semitic
56 Northern Pashto Pakistan 4 20.9 Pushto Indo-European
Iranian
57 48 Magahi India 2 20.7 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
58 49 Thai Thailand 2 20.7 Kra–Dai
Tai
50 Marwari (macrolanguage) India 3 20.6 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
59 Saraiki Pakistan 2 20.0 Lahnda Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
51 Malagasy (macrolanguage) Madagascar 2 18.1 Austronesian
Malayo-Polynesian
52 Oromo (macrolanguage) Ethiopia 3 17.5 Afroasiatic
Cushitic
53 Serbo-Croatian (macrolanguage) Serbia 13 17.1 Indo-European
Balto-Slavic
54 Nepali (macrolanguage) Nepal 3 16.6 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
60 55 Khmer Cambodia 2 16.6 Austroasiatic
Khmer
61 56 Chhattisgarhi India 1 16.3 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
62 57 Somali Somalia 4 16.2 Afroasiatic
Cushitic
63 Malay Malaysia 3 16.1 Malay Austronesian
Malayo-Polynesian
64 58 Cebuano Philippines 1 15.9 Austronesian
Malayo-Polynesian
65 Nepali Nepal 3 15.8 Nepali Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
66 Mesopotamian Spoken Arabic Iraq 4 15.7 Arabic Afroasiatic
Semitic
67 59 Assamese India 1 15.3 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
68 60 Sinhala Sri Lanka 2 15.3 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
61 Zhuang (macrolanguage) China 2 14.9 Kra–Dai
Tai
69 Northern Kurdish Turkey 9 14.6 Kurdish Indo-European
Iranian
70 Hijazi Spoken Arabic Saudi Arabia 3 14.5 Arabic Afroasiatic
Semitic
71 Nigerian Fulfulde Nigeria 3 14.5 Fulah Niger–Congo
Senegambian
72 South Azerbaijani Iran 5 13.8 Azerbaijani Turkic
Oghuz
73 62 Greek Greece 9 13.1 Indo-European
Hellenic
74 63 Chittagonian Bangladesh 1 13.0 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
75 64 Kazakh Kazakhstan 6 12.9 Turkic
Kipchak
76 65 Deccan India 1 12.8 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
77 66 Hungarian Hungary 9 12.6 Uralic
Ugric
78 67 Kinyarwanda Rwanda 3 12.1 Niger–Congo
Bantu
79 68 Zulu South Africa 5 12.1 Niger–Congo
Bantu
80 South Levantine Spoken Arabic Jordan 4 11.6 Arabic Afroasiatic
Semitic
81 Tunisian Spoken Arabic Tunisia 1 11.6 Arabic Afroasiatic
Semitic
82 Sanaani Spoken Arabic Yemen 1 11.4 Arabic Afroasiatic
Semitic
83 Min Bei Chinese China 2 11.0 Chinese Sino-Tibetan
Sinitic
84 Southern Pashto Afghanistan 4 10.9 Pushto Indo-European
Iranian
85 69 Rundi Burundi 2 10.8 Niger–Congo
Bantu
86 70 Czech Czechia 8 10.7 Indo-European
Balto-Slavic
87 Taʽizzi-Adeni Spoken Arabic Yemen 2 10.5 Arabic Afroasiatic
Semitic
88 71 Uyghur China 4 10.4 Turkic
Karluk
89 Min Dong Chinese China 6 10.3 Chinese Sino-Tibetan
Sinitic
90 72 Sylheti Bangladesh 2 10.3 Indo-European
Indo-Aryan
73 Baluchi (macrolanguage) Pakistan 7 10.0 Indo-European
Iranian
Other Languages
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Jezici po broju govornika