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Number of speakers
Home > Languages > Choosing your language > Definitions > Speakers

II. What you can do with it

Some people out there on the web spend their time inventing artificial human languages. I wonder what they do with it. With natural human languages (the kind discussed here) there's usually plenty to do. Nevertheless, it is sensible to first check the number of speakers, wether or not you'd like to travel in the countries where it's spoken and the kind of culture (books, movies, songs, etc...) that is available. Italian scores high on all of this, twi (an african language) is more problematic.

A. Number of speakers
The first thing many people ask is how many people speak their target language. Of course this is important but can be misleading. After all if size was all we would all learn chinese and live in Texas (where they like big things). Actually, I suggest you consider size after other considerations, like usefulness or travelling opportunities. Nevertheless for those of you who think they should aim for the biggest, I give you a somewhat old table of the top league :

LanguageSpeakers
1Mandarin1'000 mio
2English600 mio
3Hindi-Urdu420 mio
4Spanish330 mio
5Russian285 mio
6Indonesian190 mio
7Portugese175 mio
8Arabic170 mio
9Bengali150 mio
10French130 mio
11Japanese125 mio
12German100 mio

Total number of speakers, as a mother tongue
and as a second language




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