Interesting facts and statistics about the world’s languages: the most popular, the most difficult and much more

lingue nel mondo

Interesting facts and statistics about the world’s languages: the most popular, the most difficult and much more

Are you fascinated by everything to do with languages? Then stop scrolling now. In today’s special post, we will take a detailed look at some of the most intriguing facts and statistics about the world’s languages; from how many exist all the way to which are the strangest.

Let’s get started!

How many different languages are there in the world?

According to estimates, about 7000. This number is even more impressive if we consider that only 2300 of these are still spoken today whilst the remaining 4700 have either died or are dying out.

English and Chinese are two of the most widely used languages in the world with English dominating as the international language of communication. There are other languages which are spoken by smaller linguistic groups but still widely used on an international scale. The following list shows the latest classification of the world’s most spoken languages:

  1. English, spoken by approximately 1.4 billion people in 24 countries;
  2. Chinese Mandarin, spoken by approximately 1.1 billion people in 8 countries;
  3. Hindi, spoken by approximately 600 million people in 22 countries;
  4. Spanish, spoken by about 550 million people;
  5. French, spoken by about 300 million people;
  6. Arabic, spoken by about 275 million people

What’s the most difficult language in the world?

All languages have their own unique features and complexities, but some are noticeably harder than others. From a Western perspective, languages like Russian, Japanese, Korean, Turkish, Arabic and Chinese pose the most obstacles.

There is a lot of debate over which language is the most difficult of all. One of the most popular languages chosen as a second language is Chinese. Students must learn different tones, thousands of new characters and a completely new writing system.

Out of the various Chinese dialects, Mandarin is probably the best known but it is the lesser-known Min variety that is the most complex.

Statistics and interesting facts about the world’s languages

Let’s have a look at this list of curious and interesting facts about some of the world’s languages:

  1. According to statistics from 2020, there are two languages spoken by only 1 person: Taushiro in Peru and Tanema from the Solomon Islands making them the least spoken languages in the world;
  2. Papua New Guinea is the most linguistically diverse country in the world with an impressive 841 different languages!
  3. The language with the smallest alphabet is Rotokas from Papua New Guinea which only has 11 letters;
  4. The longest alphabet has 73 characters and belongs to the Khmer language of Cambodia;
  5. The “Romance” Languages are Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian;
  6. The “Slavic” Languages are Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Polish, Czech, Slovakian, Slovenian, Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian and Bulgarian;
  7. Even if it doesn’t have oral forms, sign language is recognised as a language in all respects as it has its own grammar, syntax and specific lexis;
  8. Whilst most languages evolved naturally in different parts of the world, there are also languages like Esperanto, Ido and Interlingua which were created with the aim of having one “business” language for international communication and relations;
  9. Some of the “strangest” languages in the world include Xhosa from South Africa with its famous clicking sounds, Basque from the Spanish-French border which doesn’t sound anything like Spanish or French and Silbo Gomero, the curious whistling Spanish from the Canary Islands;
  10. And to finish, the oldest language in the world is thought to be Sumerian which dates back to approximately 3000 BC.

The best way to find out interesting facts about a language is to learn it. If you would like to start a language course, please get in touch! I will be more than happy to guide you to select the best course for you and help you begin your language discovery journey.