Danny Yee >> Books and Media >> Reading Notes

Which languages have more than 100 million native speakers? A quiz

There are eight such languages (using Ethnologue as a reference).

Hint

Some plausible candidates don't make the cut. While Indonesia has over 200 million people, Indonesian is not the first language of most; the most widely spoken Indonesian language is Javanese, with about 85 million native speakers. The most widely spoken Arabic variety is Egyptian Arabic, with about 55 million speakers. French has about 75 million speakers and (standard) German about 80 million.

Answer

  1. Mandarin Chinese has nearly 850 million speakers. Of the other Chinese languages, the most widely spoken are Wu (80 million) and Yue/Cantonese (60 million). Recommended reading: The Languages of China.
  2. Spanish has about 330 million native speakers.
  3. English has about 330 million native speakers.
  4. Hindi+Urdu have about 240 million speakers (split 180/60).
  5. Portuguese has some 200 million speakers (most of them in Brazil).
  6. Bengali has about 190 million speakers (in India and Bangladesh).
  7. Russian has about 160 million speakers.
  8. Japanese has about 130 million speakers.

Notes:

Reading Notes << Books and Media << Danny Yee