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Current distribution of human language families

This article ranks human languages by their number of native speakers.

However, all such rankings should be used with caution, because it is not possible to devise a coherent set of linguistic criteria for distinguishing languages in a dialect continuum.[1] For example, a language is often defined as a set of varieties that are mutually intelligible, but independent national standard languages may be considered to be separate languages even though they are largely mutually intelligible, as in the case of Danish and Norwegian.[2] Conversely, many commonly accepted languages, including German, Italian and even English, encompass varieties that are not mutually intelligible.[1] While Arabic is sometimes considered a single language centred on Modern Standard Arabic, other authors describe its mutually unintelligible varieties as separate languages.[3] Similarly, Chinese is sometimes viewed as a single language because of a shared culture and common literary language.[4] It is also common to describe various Chinese dialect groups, such as Mandarin, Wu and Yue, as languages, even though each of these groups contains many mutually unintelligible varieties.[5]

There are also difficulties in obtaining reliable counts of speakers, which vary over time because of population change and language shift. In some areas, there is no reliable census data, the data is not current, or the census may not record languages spoken, or record them ambiguously. Sometimes speaker populations are exaggerated for political reasons, or speakers of minority languages may be under-reported in favour of a national language.[6]

Top languages by population

Ethnologue (2019, 22nd edition)

The following languages are listed as having at least 10 million first language speakers in the 2019 edition of Ethnologue, a language reference published by SIL International, which is based in the United States.[7]

Charts and graphs

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Refers to only Modern Standard Hindi here. The Census of India defines Hindi on a loose and broad basis. It does not include the entire Hindustani language, only the Hindi register of it. In addition to Standard Hindi, it incorporates a set of other Indo-Aryan languages written in Devanagari script including Awadhi, Bhojpuri, Haryanvi, Dhundhari etc. under Hindi group which have more than 422 million native speakers as of 2001.[12] However, the census also acknowledges Standard Hindi, the above mentioned languages and others as separate mother tongues of the Hindi language and provides individual figures for all these languages.[12]
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h This is only a fraction of total speakers; others are counted under "Hindi" as they regard their language a Hindi dialect.
  3. ^ Numbers may also be counted in Punjabi above
  4. ^ Only half this many use Belarusian as their home language.

References

  1. ^ a b Paolillo, John C.; Das, Anupam (31 March 2006). "Evaluating language statistics: the Ethnologue and beyond" (PDF). UNESCO Institute of Statistics. pp. 3–5. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  2. ^ Chambers, J.K.; Trudgill, Peter (1998). Dialectology (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-59646-6.
  3. ^ Kaye, Alan S.; Rosenhouse, Judith (1997). "Arabic Dialects and Maltese". In Hetzron, Robert (ed.). The Semitic Languages. Routledge. pp. 263–311. ISBN 978-0-415-05767-7.
  4. ^ Norman, Jerry (1988). Chinese. Cambridge University Press. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-521-29653-3.
  5. ^ Norman, Jerry (2003). "The Chinese dialects: phonology". In Thurgood, Graham; LaPolla, Randy J. (eds.). The Sino-Tibetan languages. Routledge. pp. 72–83. ISBN 978-0-7007-1129-1.[11]

  • Languages with at least 50 million first-language speakers, millions (according to: Ethnologue[13])

  • See also

    Notes

    1. ^ Refers to only Modern Standard Hindi here. The Census of India defines Hindi on a loose and broad basis. It does not include the entire Hindustani language, only the Hindi register of it. In addition to Standard Hindi, it incorporates a set of other Indo-Aryan languages written in Devanagari script including Awadhi, Bhojpuri, Haryanvi, Dhundhari etc. under Hindi group which have more than 422 million native speakers as of 2001.[12] However, the census also acknowledges Standard Hindi, the above mentioned languages and others as separate mother tongues of the Hindi language and provides individual figures for all these languages.[12]
    2. ^ a b c d e f g h This is only a fraction of total speakers; others are counted under "Hindi" as they regard their language a Hindi dialect.
    3. ^ Numbers may also be counted in Punjabi above
    4. ^ Only half this many use Belarusian as their home language.

    References

    1. ^ a b Paolillo, John C.; Das, Anupam (31 March 2006). "Evaluating language statistics: the Ethnologue and beyond" (PDF). UNESCO Institute of Statistics. pp. 3–5. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
    2. ^ Chambers, J.K.; Trudgill, Peter (1998). Dialectology (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-59646-6.
    3. ^ Kaye, Alan S.; Rosenhouse, Judith (1997). "Arabic Dialects and Maltese". In Hetzron, Robert (ed.). The Semitic Languages. Routledge. pp. 263–311. ISBN 978-0-415-05767-7.
    4. ^ Norman, Jerry (1988). Chinese. Cambridge University Press. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-521-29653-3.
    5. ^ Norman, Jerry (2003). "The Chinese dialects: phonology". In Thurgood, Graham; LaPolla, Randy J. (eds.). The Sino-Tibetan languages. Routledge. pp. 72–83. ISBN 978-0-7007-1129-1.
    6. ^ Crystal, David (1988). The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language. Cambridge University Press. pp. 286–287. ISBN 978-0-521-26438-9.
    7. ^ a b

      Languages with at least 50 million first-language speakers, millions (according to: Ethnologue[13])

    See also

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