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Which languages have the most speakers?


True2marie
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You are absolutely right. English and Spanish are widely spoken due to the fact that their ex colonies still speak their language. As for China, 1.350.000.000 people is more than enough to be in that list.

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I'd include to that list ''arabic''. There are plenty of arabic speaking countries in the world, and also a lot immigrants of arab origin live in Europe and America.  I actually read a while ago that there are around 500,000 palestinians in Chile!  Can you imagine?  They left the country a while ago, right before the Turkey forces were kicked out from the country (by them).

So there is no doubt arabic should be added to that list :) 

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I'd include to that list ''arabic''. There are plenty of arabic speaking countries in the world...

So there is no doubt arabic should be added to that list :)

I've heard from several different sources that "Arabic" is really a blanket term for what are about a dozen different languages. I actually know a girl from Morocco who mentioned that she and somebody from Syria would not be able to have a conversation although both of them would be speaking "Arabic." Somebody else also specified he was studying Egyptian Arabic (and only wanted to practice with people from Egypt) because Arabic in different countries were basically different.

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Don't forget about Portuguese, most of the old Portuguese colonies still have it as official language, like Timor, Angola and Mozambique for example. Brazil's population is 200 million people so theres a lot of Portuguese speakers out there  :grin:

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I would assume English is at the top but does Chinese top English? I never really looked into it and as I'm typing this I feel like I am going to have to check with Google now. Oh, learning you never cease.

It's hard to tell but if we are talking about native speakers, it's obvious that Chinese has the most native speakers compared to any other language... China's a huge country!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_languages_by_number_of_native_speakers

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Interesting ranking andre-nunes, it doesn't surprise me Mandarin is the most spoken language, almost one billion speakers! Also funny that English ranks only 3rd behind Spanish, ah, but wait, this is native speakers, a global ranking must have other numbers...

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In terms of native speakers it is definitely Mandarin-Chinese. In terms of the most spoken language worldwide it is most certainly English? no? Everything else would really surprise me :=)

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Globally, I would have to say English. Next it would be Spanish followed by Chinese since they have a large population and worldwide trade is increasing rapidly.

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The top three are English, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese, but the order depends on what you mean by "speakers".

If you count the inhabitants of countries by official language, then it must be English, principally because India has a population comparable to China and one official language in India is English.

Would you consider "speakers" as people with the language as their mother tongue? Again English wins out here, because a lot of people in China and the Spanish world speak local languages such as Kirguizi or Quechwa in their families. In Spain itself for instance 3 million alone have Catalan as their mother language, not Spanish. In countries like the US, GB or Australia the local languages are much more infrequent. This is a pity IMHO, I like linguistic diversity.

And if you think "speakers" are people who can speak the language ok but it's not mother tongue, then clearly it's English again. A customer in Denmark phones a supplier in France, what language do they normally speak in?

This is the strength of English worldwide, it's the language of business, culture, internet etc. for people who speak it as a second language.

So whichever way you look at it, I'd put my money on English having the most speakers.

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I agree with many of the responses above.  It seems like English is utilized in many countries and in many international transactions.  So I would guess it is in the top tier.  I would also agree it is common as a second language.  As to speakers per se, I think you would have to look at the most populated countries and their native language.  I tried to find a specific answer but it seems English and Chinese are the most frequently mentioned.

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