Trisha Shetty (Editor)

List of languages by number of native speakers

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List of languages by number of native speakers

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

However, all such rankings should be used with caution. It is difficult to define the difference between a language and a dialect, or between a language and a macrolanguage; for example, Chinese is sometimes considered a single language and sometimes a macrolanguage whose many varieties are all independent languages. Any division of speakers among languages is the result of the classification of these speakers. Often such classifications are based on political or cultural factors. Although such classifications are not entirely arbitrary, it is not possible to devise a coherent linguistic set of criteria for the boundaries between languages.

For a list of languages with the smallest numbers of native speakers, see lists of endangered languages.


The following table contains the top 100 languages by estimated number of native speakers in the 2007 edition of 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.

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.


List of languages by number of native speakers Wikipedia