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How Many Languages Do You Speak?

April 9, 2022

There are roughly 6,500 spoken languages in the world today. However, about 2,000 of those languages have fewer than 1,000 speakers. The most popular language in the world is Mandarin Chinese. There are roughly 1,213,000,000 people in the world that speak that language or 14.1 percent of the world’s population. The next most popular language is Spanish which accounts for about 5.85 percent of the world’s population. In third place is English, which accounts for about 5.52. percent of the world’s population. The list goes on and on with Konkani rounding out the top 100 languages with a little over a tenth of a percent of the world’s native speakers.

In between there is a labyrinth of languages that a whole lot of people speak, either as their native or learned language. Over 40 percent of the world’s population speaks only one language. Monolingual speakers are usually found in English speaking countries. Bilingual speakers account for 43 percent of the world’s population. These people speak two languages. Multilinguals and polyglots are those who speak more than 4 languages. They are obviously less common: In fact only around 3 percent for 4 language speakers and less than one per thousand for those who speak more than 5 languages.

I am an oddity I admit. Being that I love language and have traveled the world, I speak many languages with varying degrees of fluency and efficiency. They include English, Italian, German, French, Spanish, Latin, Greek, Dutch, Mandarin Chinese, Arabic, Portuguese, Nones, Südtirolerisch, Lakota and Siksika (Blackfoot). That’s 15 languages, of which I use regularly English, Italian, Nones, Südtirolerisch, German, Dutch, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic. Siksika is my newest language and I’m just a poor beginner but I take pride in practicing all of my language skills as much as I can and I often go out of my way to make them a part of my daily life. In fact, being a songwriter, I often spend idle moments translating popular songs into other languages for linguistic practice.

Most of us learn a new language only when we are forced to do so. But since most of us are not transferring with our job to Beijing, the onus is really on us (pun intended). While schools are quick to offer a variety of languages, children often don’t retain what they learn of other languages for one simple fact: They don’t need to because their friends and family all speak their native language. One great solution to this mess is to seek out friends and situations that don’t require you to speak your native tongue. You would be surprised how quickly you will learn and retain another language if you truly need to speak another language. Here are factors that contribute to speaking more than one language:

. If you speak one language at home and another outside with friends, at school or at work.
. If your native language is full of foreign words.
. If you live in a country influenced by other cultures and eventually other languages.
. If you live in a country with open borders with other nations speaking different languages.
. If you love languages and willing to dedicate time learning them.
. If you have the ability to learn and memorize a good number of new words.
. If you have an interest in grammar and attention to linguistic detail.
. If you are just curious and like to communicate with others.

.  AND If you are willing to make mistakes and learn from them.

How many languages do you speak? Please leave a comment here in one of your languages and let me know. I’ll try my best to answer each comment in one of your languages. ᖹᒧᐧᖹᖱᔪᒣᖽ (nitsíniiyi’taki) ((Thank You))

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Read author Allen E. Rizzi’s latest books available at Amazon.com

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3 Comments
  1. English, French, German Italian, Spanish

    Liked by 1 person

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