Interesting Facts about Languages

I found some of these very interesting. Hope you enjoy!

•There are about 6,500 spoken languages

• About 1.051 billion people speak Mandarin Chinese.

• About 490 million people speak Hindi.

• About 420 million people speak Spanish.

• About 510 million people speak English.

• The last four languages listed are the top four spoken languages. There are differences in numbers between native and second language speakers.

•About 2,400 languages are classified as endangered.

•A language dies about every 2 weeks.

•Eastern Siberia, Northwest Pacific Plateau of North America, And Northern Australia are hotspots for endangered languages.

•Two-hundred thirty-one languages are now completely extinct-these include Alderney French, Soyot, Togoyo.

• In Mexico, the language of Ayapaneco is in danger of dying out because the two remaining speakers refuse to talk to each other.

•There are 11 official languages in South Africa: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu.

•The Sumerian language is one of the oldest known written language. It is believed to be written c. 3300 BC. - 3000BC.

•There are 13 ways to spell the 'o' sound in French.

•There are 850 languages in Papua New Guinea.

•These languages are spoken by tribal groups making Papua New Guinea the most linguistically diverse country in the world.

•Despite the difference, one theory has drawn similarities between Japanese and the language of the Native American Zuni tribe.

•Frisian is supposedly the easiest language for English speakers to learn

•German is thought to be the most similar to English, followed by French, then Russian.

•The Bible, or at least sections of it, is available in 2,454 languages.

•Pinocchio is available in the most languages after the Bible.

•Esperanto is an artificial language developed in the 19th century; 500,000 to 2,000,000 speak it.

•There are 50,000 characters in the Chinese language, but you need to know at least 2,000 to read a newspaper.

•There are about 2,200 languages in Asia.

Note: Some of these facts or statistics may be incorrect. Please inform me if they are.

January 27, 2017


•German is thought to be the most similar to English, followed by French, then Russian.

Doesn't sound that accurate, where did you find this ? I mean Dutch, Luxembourgisch and several other languages are definitely closer than English and the Scandinavian languages are also closer to German than French and Russian.

January 27, 2017

I agree with you, and there is also Afrikaans which is supposed to be the easier after Frisian or at the same level.

January 28, 2017

Russian and French aren't even part of the Germanic family.

January 28, 2017

Have you ever looked a Frisian or W. Frisian ? I think they descended from German , like English didn't they ?

January 29, 2017

No none of those languages descend from german. They are from the west germanic branch and are closely related to dutch and german, not descended from them. They each developed separately and in parallel for the last ~1500 years at least

November 16, 2017

Look at the wording. "German is thought..." I am not very learned in languages like you are so I assume you are probably correct about that.

January 30, 2017

Some interesting facts about EN: When Normans lost Normandy, it started switching to English language of land they ruled. But English had hardly been written for over 200 years; all official text had been written in French and anything related to universities or clergy was in Latin. So, scribes tried to write down what they heard and were pretty inconsistent. They applied French spelling conventions to English words, so cwen became queen, cirice became church and c was used instead of s in words like cell and circle.

500 years ago, 5-7m people spoke English, almost all of them living in British Isles.

EN is the only major language that doesn’t have academy to say how language should develop. Scholars tried to make English neater language but ended up making it messier!

It takes about 10x less effort to learn Esperanto with very precise grammar rules and much less root words + affixes that can create any expression imaginable.

The census on EO speakers is 2M. It can be up to 10m with varying level of proficiency. > 704K EO<ENg + >34K EO<ESpana just on Duolingo

January 28, 2017

And we are breeding ...

January 29, 2017

Great list :D The ayapaneco one is outdated though, here's something of interest:

and for the language that is the easiest for English speakers, some say Scots, but some others say that Scots is a dialect of English, it depends on your views. (I believe they are 2 separate languages tho :p)

January 27, 2017

Scots easy? I am Scouse and if I talk to a Glaswegian when we are both drunk then we cannot understand each other.

January 27, 2017

"I believe they are 2 separate languages tho :p"

So do the goverments of Scotland and the UK, so you're not alone. :)

January 27, 2017

Thanks! I don't know what the easiest language would be either honestly. As you said, people have different opinions.

January 27, 2017

Great list. :)

West Frisian and Afrikaans, as stated by others, is much easier for English speakers. I remember reading a West Frisian letter and I could understand 85% of it. Afrikaans is easier than Dutch because they changed spellings and some other things. I forget what else they changed, if someone knows please do tell.

January 28, 2017

The Ayapaneco one is untrue. I've read an explanation of how that story got started - I'll see if I can find it again.

January 28, 2017

In 2010 a story started circulating that the last two speakers of the Ayapaneco language were enemies and no longer talked to each other. The story was incorrect, and while it was quickly corrected it came to circulate widely.

January 29, 2017

Let's make another story. Chat Boxes were taught Ayapaneco by the 2 speakers and the whole VR world now speaks Ayapaneco with a robotic accent.

January 29, 2017

• In Mexico, the language of Ayapaneco is in danger of dying out because the two remaining speakers refuse to talk to each other.

That one was the best one :p

January 28, 2017

Cool :D

January 27, 2017

Frisian is absolutely close to English , but I think it is confusingly similar , i want to be learning the recipe for tomato sauce and another for marmalade , not two kinds of pasta sauce , know what I mean ? Pretty cool post :)

January 29, 2017

Thank you! :D

January 31, 2017

Mandarin has ~1090 million speakers, English ~942 million, Spanish ~570 million. Hindi is 5th with ~385 million.

January 28, 2017

If you read Wiki in different languages you will find different info. EN wiki is biased vs En, etc. associate languages of Hindi, such as Rajasthani, Awadhi, Braj, Bihari, Maithili, Bhojpuri, Hariyanavi etc, are not counted as Hindi (modern std only and 16 years ago!!). Therefore, data pertaining to those conversant with Hindi is shown as just 500m(422 in other), whereas realistically, number of people conversant with Hindi is 1.2B (~ #1).

Arabic speakers ~420m.

January 29, 2017 Spanish ahead of Hindi, Mandarin ahead of everyone Spanish ahead of Hindi, also ahead of English. Mandarin ahead of everyone. Spanish ahead of Hindi, Mandarin ahead of everyone Hindi ahead of Spanish this time, although only by heavy under-reporting of number of Spanish speakers. Even in this (scantily sourced) page, Mandarin comes out ahead of Hindi.

1.2 billion is the entire population of India, but Hindi has almost zero speakers outside of India, and by no stretch of the imagination do all Indians speak Hindi, even 'conversationally'. In particular, South India has extremely few Hindi speakers. According to this only 41% of Indians speak Hindi. The Spanish page says 30%:

Your article is biased and ridiculous. 'English is fast becoming the most preferred language in China, while Hindi in its simplicity is endearing itself not just to people of India, but all over the world.' Find me a single non-Indian who agrees with any of this. Even using their incredibly inflated figure of 78% of India speaking Hindi we end up with far less than 1.2 billion. The word of a (banker?) and one article is not enough for me, I expect academic data and sourced work. Frankly, India has a big problem with pseudo-science at the moment, tragic considering the rich scientific and cultural history of the country. The sheer number of people claiming that Tamil was the first written language (no-one has ever heard of Sumerian apparently) or that it's so old and hasn't changed at all (false)...

January 30, 2017

Thanks for the research. It's a crazy world, and a lot of propaganda/infighting.

Some sources point to 75% Indo-Aryan (Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Punjabi, Marathi, Gujurati...) ~900M native. It will take some time for India(ns) to get united and create a unifying language similar to what Arabs have done.

There's a lot of Language Chauvinism while people can speak more common dialects. Eg. Serbo-Croatian (Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, even Montenegrin). Are all dialects of English fully legible if the people start using slang/abbreviations? Chinglish?

The more I think about it, the more motivation/HOPE about Esperanto - for clear communication and mutual respect/understanding.


January 30, 2017

Hindi and Urdu can be broadly considered to be the same language, but classing all Indo-Aryan languages as a single one is the equivalent of classing all Romance languages as one language. This would make Spanish and Romanian the same language, for example. It would also give our 'Romance' language over 1.215 billion speakers

January 31, 2017

Good learning. Now let them sort out their differences. For practical purpose, they are ~2nd in native speakers and growing faster. Followed/paralleled by the Spanish/Portuguese and the fast growing Arab group..

Hindi<sub>422m+Urdu</sub>100m ~~522M++ Native only

January 31, 2017

By language group (native):

Chinese ~1200 Hindi ~1200 Romance ~850 Germanic ~500 Arabic ~420 Slavic ~360

January 29, 2017

You say literally right above that 'Hindi', in fact Indo-Aryan, comes to 900

February 1, 2017

The mexican language that has two speakers is not indanger of dying out because they refuse to talk to each other, it's dying out because there are only two speakers. When a language is no longer transmitted to offspring and more speakers are dying than are being born, then that language is considered to be dying. Even if they were good friends and talked every day, this language would still be doomed, and would die in a few years anyways

November 16, 2017

Yesterday spoke to Australian aborigines & they said the government is prohibiting/discouraging them teaching their language to children (in favour to english). Now we know the main reasons languages die - from bullies.

November 17, 2017

Hmm, see the whole "top 10 spoken languages" thing changes a lot in lists. Especially with English and Spanish, they're always switching between 2nd and 3rd position from what I've seen, and it's hard to say. We can say with some confidence that the total number of Spanish speakers is around 420-500 million, and well, the total number of English speakers can be estimated anywhere from 500M-1.5B, (I doubt the figure is THAT high though, and that estimate probably includes people who just know enough to convey basic ideas, I'd say anywhere from 500-750M total with fluency). As for Hindi? It's the first time I've seen it being put at such a high level, but I suppose India has a fast growing population. As for Chinese well, that's undoubtedly the top, but doesn't Chinese like, vary a lot from location to location? I'm not sure if they're taught some standard dialect in schools, I'm no linguist or anything, languages just fascinate me and I want to learn a few. I've seen many people commenting about this sort of thing, and I think it's down to how you measure native speakers vs non-native and to what extent of fluency you're measuring by.

January 11, 2018

Native English speakers 371m (4.89% and falling), total ~983m. There are about 50sh dialects. Hindi/Urdu 474m native (6.24% and fast growing), ~900 all (1.2bn exaggerated by some).

January 12, 2018

Hmm, interesting, but I added up the population of all Spanish speaking countries then threw in the 50 million-ish that speak Spanish in The US and got 512 Million total estimated, I understand that especially in Latin American countries there are also native language speakers, but surely it's a little more than 420 Million? And with regards to English, 510 million does seem like a good rough estimate, but I always believed it to be more like 700 million, which again is one of my own estimates, and of course there are varying levels of fluency.

May 20, 2018
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