After many painstaking hours of research, we have compiled a list of what we believe to be the most popular languages in the world. Be warned; the results may surprise you. Esperanto is nowhere on the list.
Spanish (español) – 417 million speakers
Spanish may only be the fifth most popular language in the world, but it ranks significantly better in native speakers. Its 322 million native speakers make it the third most spoken language in the world by native speakers.
Arabic (al-ʿarabiyyah) – 452 million speakers
Spoken in over twenty Middle Eastern countries, Arabic is one of the oldest living languages in the world. While it is the language used in the Qur’an, most Muslims are not native Arabic speakers.
Attempts to speak this language on planes may be met with irrational fear, incarceration or bullets. Use at your own risk.
Hindustani (हिन्दुस्तानी) – 650 million speakers
Also known as Hindi-Urdu, Hindustani is an official language in Pakistan, India and Fiji. It encompasses a number of dialects, the two most prominent being Standard Hindi and Urdu. In fact, the conquering British in the late 1700s used Hindustani and Urdu interchangeably.
Hindustani is the “neutral” language used in Bollywood films and is the second most spoken language in the world by native speakers.
Mandarin (官話) – 1.05 billion speakers
With well over 800 million native speakers, Mandarin Chinese tops the list of languages by native speakers. Considering China is the most populous country in the world, that’s not exactly surprising. Mandarin, like Hindustani, actually consists of several dialects spoken across most of China.
English (English) – 1.5 billion speakers
It’s no surprise that English is the most popular language on the planet—after all, it’s the language spoken by two of the most formidable global powers in recent history. Will English continue to be the most spoken language on the planet? We’ll see.