About these Languages
Estimated number of persons on earth whose mother tongue is:
English is the official language of Nigeria (95 million) and the associate official language of India (900 million) although a minority of residents of those countries speak it. English is also spoken in Guyana, Jamaica, Belize, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and several other countries. Nearly 30 million Filipinos speak it fluently as a second language.
An estimated 17 million residents of the United States speak Spanish as a first or second language. Spanish is also widely spoken in the Philippines, Morocco, and parts of west Africa.
German is also spoken in the United States (1.5 million), Argentina (0.5 million), Brazil, and other countries.
French is also spoken in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Cameroon, Senegal, Switzerland, the United States (1.7 million), Lebanon, and other nations.
Italian is also spoken in the United States (1.3 million), Argentina (1.0 million), Brazil, Canada, and Switzerland.
Other Widely Spoken Languages:
The prominence of English, Spanish, and Portuguese as languages outside their mother country in western Europe is closely related to Columbus' discovery of America and to subsequent European explorations in the Americas and elsewhere. Pope Alexander VI's bull of 1493 set a dividing line between Portuguese (Brazil) and Spanish (other nations) spheres of influence in Latin America. The French and British fought over colonial possessions in India and North America, with the British winning major victories in the 1760s. In the 19th century, the British, French, Portuguese, and Belgians created colonies in Africa and Asia. All these events helped to determine the linguistic map of the world.
Earlier, the spread of Arabic as a language was closely related to victories of Arab armies in spreading the religion of Islam. French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian are known as Romance languages; they are derivatives of Latin, spread by armies of the Roman empire. The Russian language spread with the expansion of the Czarist Russian empire.
Source: Kenneth Katzner, The Languages of the World (Routledge, 1995)
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