There are thousands of languages in use across the globe, but only a small number see significant daily usage. The fact is that more than 50 percent of the world’s population is made up of speakers of just 23 languages.
Though most nations recognize only one or two languages as official, the rise of first-nation populations, multiculturalism, and globalization have resulted in the widespread use of additional languages within national boundaries.
About 150 distinct indigenous languages are still in use today, and they make up the vast majority of these.
The 10 countries with the most spoken languages
In this article we’ll take a look at 7 countries worldwide with the most spoken languages.
1. Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea is a small country in the Pacific with a population of just over seven million people, but they speak more than twice as many languages as all of Europe combined. It is a bit of a novelty that Papua New Guinea is home to 840 different languages.
Many different ethnic groups in this country have developed and maintained their own distinct languages thanks to the long periods of isolation afforded by the country’s dense rainforests and rugged terrain. Their top languages include Tok Pisin, Hiri Motu, and English.
Indonesia, another neighboring country to Australia, is second in linguistic diversity, with 707 separate languages. The vast majority of these people are indigenous, and some of them influenced the development of Bahasa Indonesian, a Malay dialect that is the official language of the country.
There is an infinite variety of African languages spoken today. A total of 527 of the world’s languages can be found in Nigeria alone. While English is the official language, over twenty million people can also communicate fluently in Igbo. Common languages include Ijaw, Kanuri, Hausa, Yoruba, and Fulfulde.
There are actually 22 separate official languages in India. Assamese, Dogri, Kannada, Gujarati, Bodo, Manipur, Oriya, Marathi, Santali, Telugu, Punjabi, Sindhi, Malayalam, Konkani, and Kashmiri are just some of the languages spoken in this region. The country of India, however, is home to 453 distinct tongues.
5. United States
The United States of America has no official language, which may come as a surprise to you. Contrary to popular belief, English is not the native tongue in this country but rather one of the 430 idioms. Commonly spoken languages in the United States include Spanish, Chinese (and its varieties), French, and Tagalog.
Despite its massive population, China ranks only sixth among the countries that speak the most languages in the world. Mainland China recognizes two official languages which are Standard Chinese, spoken by the majority, and Cantonese, spoken by the minority. But there are a lot of them. Three hundred and one official languages are spoken in China.
While Spanish is the most commonly spoken language in Mexico, there are actually 290 different languages spoken there. The federal government of Mexico officially recognizes 68 national languages, sixty three of which are spoken by indigenous peoples.
As many as 280 different languages are spoken in Cameroon. As many as six hundred languages may be spoken in this country, according to some estimates. Bafia, Bafut, and Bakoko are just a few of the many indigenous languages that coexist with the country’s official languages, French and English.
There is no one language that is recognized as the national tongue of Australia. Nonetheless, English has achieved the status of de facto national language. There are 260 different languages spoken in Australia, with Mandarin being the most widely used language not based on English. Punjabi, Filipino, and Tagalog are some of the many other idioms spoken Down Under.
Even though it has one of the world’s largest populations, Brazil ranks dead last in terms of the number of languages spoken there. Although Portuguese is the formal and national language, many other idioms are spoken there as well. In fact, there are 228 official idioms in the country. Native Nheengatu is one of the minority languages spoken in this country. Others include Italian, German, and Japanese.
Diversity in language across different communities
While the majority of these countries have an official language or more, there are often communities within each country whose native tongue is not the national language.
There can be as few as one person speaking a minority language or as many as a few million people speaking a minority language, and the numbers of each vary widely from country to country.
In addition to the states above, other countries that also have the most spoken languages are the Philippines, Malaysia, Sudan, Chad, Russia, Tanzania and Nepal.