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Linguaholic

How Many Different Languages Are There in the World?


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This is a question that I felt compelled to ask. I of course did a search and found several numbers.  Some numbers were as small as 4000 different languages while others went to greater numbers of 6800 to 6900 different languages in the world.  I knew that there was quite a few and that several languages have several dialects creating a new language but I was a bit shocked at the numbers.  Did you ever ask yourself how many languages there were and what is your opinion on the numbers?  Do you think it is more like 4000 different languges or possibly more in the ball park of 6900? 

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Well, they taught me that in college, so I already knew that :P It might seem like a huge number, but we have to remember that some countries use multiple languages.

I think the higher number is more likely, because we still don't know all the languages that are out there.

There used to be even more of them, but some languages are dying out.

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Even though we don't know the exact number it is still fascinating to think about this.  Whether it's approximately 4,000 languages or 6,000+ languages, either way those are huge numbers. 

What's also interesting is the wide range of the numbers of speakers.  While the major languages have hundreds of millions of speakers, just think of the languages that are on the verge of extinction as there are only a handful of speakers left, and they are dying off with no new generation to replace them. 

I know language extinction has been discussed elsewhere on the forum...

http://linguaholic.com/general-discussion/language-extinction/

...but for me it also comes to mind in this context. 

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That's a tough question since there are so many and so many claims differ. I'd say anywhere from 6,500 - 7,500 languages if you include all the different dialects in and sun-dialects, even contemporary dialects. Its a cool trivial question though!

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That's a tough question since there are so many and so many claims differ. I'd say anywhere from 6,500 - 7,500 languages if you include all the different dialects in and sun-dialects, even contemporary dialects. Its a cool trivial question though!

There's more if you include languages that have been completely forgotten now.

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  • 7 months later...

I doubt very much that there will ever be a correct answer to the question. The African continent has 1500-2000 languages so based on that amount I would assume that there could be close to 6000 different languages in the world. After all some countries have several different languages among their people so I could definitely see a high figure. :amazed:

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I really wonder if in those numbers the different dialects are included?  Because I know there is a big difference between a language and a dialect, but not everyone is aware of that and sometimes they mistakenly include dialect in that group.    I also wonder if dead languages are included in that group?

I've been wondering how many different languages and dialects there are in the world ever since I felt interested in learning languages.  One thing is for sure: we will never really know how many languages there have been in total since the begging of time! That mere thought intrigues me and fascinates me!

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To be honest neither of those numbers would surprise me. It's such a diverse world and I think 4000+ is the number of languages excluding the different dialects while 6000+ is more accurate if you include dialects. Maybe those numbers would go even higher if ancient languages were included.

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I've never thought about it, to be honest, but now that you mention it, I find it very interesting. I do think there could be that many languages in this world though, because just in my country alone there's already so many dialects specific to each region, so I'd say that it's very plausible.

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