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About these Languages

 

Estimated number of persons on earth whose mother tongue is:

English - 350 million

Spanish - 325 million

Portuguese - 170 million

German - 100 million

French - 75 million

Italian - 60 million

 

Nations where these languages are spoken -

English:

United States of America - 260 million citizens: most speak English

United Kingdom - 58 million

Canada 27 million - 17 million speak English

Australia - 18 million

Ireland - 3.5 million

New Zealand - 3 million

South Africa - 2 million English speakers out of 40 million

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.

Spanish:

Mexico - 90 million

Spain - 40 million

Colombia - 35 million

Argentina - 35 million

Peru - 25 million

Venezuela - 20 million

Chile - 14 million

Cuba - 11 million

Ecuador - 11 million

Guatemala - 10 million

Dominican Republic - 7 million

Bolivia - 7 million

El Salvador - 6 million

Honduras - 5 million

Costa Rica - 3 million

Uruguay - 3 million

Panama - 3 million

Puerto Rico - 3 million

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.

Portuguese:

Brazil - 160 million

Portugal - 10 million

Mozambique - 15 million: Portuguese is official language.

Angola - 9 million: Portuguese is official language.

German:

Germany - 80 million

Austria - 8 million

Switzerland - 5 million

German is also spoken in the United States (1.5 million), Argentina (0.5 million), Brazil, and other countries.

French:

France - 55 million

Canada - 27 million of which 7 million are French speakers

Belgium - 10 million of which 3.5 million are French speakers

Zaire - 40 million: French is official language.

Madagascar - 13 million: French is official language.

Burkino Faso - 10 million: French is official language.

Niger - 8 million

Guinea - 7 million

Haiti - 6 million

French is also spoken in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Cameroon, Senegal, Switzerland, the United States (1.7 million), Lebanon, and other nations.

Italian:

Italy 60 million

Italian is also spoken in the United States (1.3 million), Argentina (1.0 million), Brazil, Canada, and Switzerland.

 

Other Widely Spoken Languages:

Chinese - 1.2 billion in P.R. of China plus another 40 million

Hindi - 275 million in northwest India

Arabic - 215 million in north Africa, Arabia, and the Middle East

Russian - 125 million in Russia plus another 30 million

Japanese - 125 million in Japan

Urdu - 90 million in India and Pakistan

Javanese - 75 million in Java (Indonesia)

Bengali - 70 million in West Bengal (India) and Bangladesh

Vietnamese - 65 million in Vietnam

Korean - 65 million in North and South Korea

Marathi - 65 million in India

Turkish - 55 million in Turkey

Thai - 50 million in Thailand

Gujarati - 45 million in Gujarat (India)

Ukrainian - 40 million in the Ukraine

 

Historical Notes:

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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