The Five Most Commonly Spoken Languages | The Communication Blog

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Five Most Commonly Spoken Languages

By Michael Holmes

Whether we like it or not language - in whatever form - is an integral part of daily life. Let's take transport as an example, knowing what times the buses come, reading the instruction manual for your car or the directions that show up on your smartphone to direct you to work are all things we use language for that we take for granted. Even though a lot of communication from person to person is NOT verbal, society as a whole still relies on it heavily.

The twists and turns of how we speak and trends in slang among an almost infinite range of adverbs, similes, metaphors and euphemisms not only make language immensely complex, they also make it big business. So, which are the most commonly spoken languages today and for what reasons? Read on to find out!

Let's commence with the most popular - Chinese Mandarin. Over eight hundred and fifty million people speak this language predominantly across Northern and South Western China. It is due to the population density in China that Mandarin is so widely spoken and even more so as Mandarin constitutes the preferred, or standard language of the country. There are a number of other dialects spoken in China each with their own history and journey through time, these variants are; Wu, Hakka, Min, Xiang, Yue and Gan Chinese.

Despite being the second most commonly spoken language in the world, Spanish doesn't have even half of the number of speakers that Chinese Mandarin does offering a measly four hundred million compared with China's eight hundred and fifty! As with a number of European languages, Spanish is thought of as romantic with a delicate and rich history. One interesting fact about the Spanish language is it's popularity as a subject to learn - the statistics for those who speak Spanish as a second language are staggering, if Spanish were a school child - it'd certainly be head cheerleader!

Spoken natively in countries with huge power and population numbers you may find it surprising that English is only the third most popular language in the world with around three hundred million speakers. However what it lacks in numbers it makes up for in sheer power as it is commonly perceived as the ultimate power language. For foreigners looking to learn a second language therefore, English is predominantly the language of choice due to its wider use in translation, business, industry, communication, science and technologyto name a few.

If you are perfectly fluent in the above popular languages and would like to try your hand at something a little different, you might like to give Arabic a go. Forget different verbs, rules and accentsArabic has a completely different alphabet to try and grasp! With approximately two hundred and fifty million speakers worldwide though it's surprisingly popular and the only language that uses a different alphabet to make it into the top five.

The crowded country of India, at the centre of so much controversy in the Western business world has one hundred and eighty million speaking its native language, Hindi. This figure is enough to earn it fifth position on the top five list. Understood by many, Hindi has many similarities with other languages related to it and is the official language of this emerging superpower.

Each of these five languages has it's own history and all are evolving constantly at their own rates of change and development, in addition to this there are hundreds of other languages and variants out there. If only we could be around in another five thousand years to see what's going to happen to our language next!

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