All the languages of the world

Bristish English vs American English: thank you Mr. Webster!
6 December 2017
Italian vs dialect: language or not language?
27 February 2018

While waiting for the publishing of the up-to-date data, let’s begin the year with an overview to show the status quo of all the languages in the world last year.

In 2017, on the basis of the annual report of Ethnologue, the organization that studies all the languages of the globe, the spoken languages in the world were more or less 7.097. Obviously, this is a number which is continuously evolving, because with time passing new languages appear and others disappear. Furthermore, every language change from year to year: on one side neologisms increase, on the other side a lot of words become obsolete.

The most noticeable data is that a small group of 23 languages, out of 7.000, are talked by more than half of the world population. Regarding the rest of them, 1/3 will probably die out, because less than 1.000 people speak them.

The majority of the spoken languages are located in Africa, Asia and in the Pacific area. But how many people actually speak these languages? In other words, “a lot of languages” equals “a lot of people using those languages”? Yes and no!

The report shows that the 2/3, meaning more or less 75% of the spoken languages in the world, are in Asia or in Africa and the European languages are only a small part of the remaining 1/3.

Considering the regionality, the languages spoken in Europe aren’t a lot, but if we take into account the number of speakers, the percentage grows. So, for example in Europe, where the spoken languages are only 287 out of 7.099, the people who actually speaks them are more than 1,7 billion against 4,9 billion people speaking all the different thousands of asian and african ones.

Languages are a wonderful heritage of humanity, widespread everywhere, but not in the same way in different continents or countries.

A very particular example is Papua New Guinea, where more than twice the languages widespread in Europe are spoken. However, they are mostly indigenous languages, spoken by small ethnic groups.

Do you know when people say “it takes all kinds to make a world”? I would say that languages and their diffusion are a good example😊!