There are more than 7,000 known languages in the world today, 23 of which have more than 50 million speakers each. That’s a lot of people saying a lot of different things in a lot of different ways.

The big question though, is what's the biggest language of them all? Who would win in a fight, and what language would be the best to know once the impending apocalypse hits?

The following information is taken from a recent study by SCMP into the languages of the world, with sources including Ethnologue, Unesco, United Nations, University of Dusseldorf and the Washington Post.

Here are the 14 most frequently spoken languages in the world...

French flag waiving over some Hotel de Ville

There are 75.9 million people who speak French world wide. 60m of these eat baguettes and wear cloves of garlic (are French), while Canada, Belgium, Switzerland and the United States also have over one million speakers each.

Seoul skyline

77,200,000 people speak Korean, split between North and South Korea, as well as China and Japan.

This figure doesn't take into account, however, the fact that Kim Jung-Un has probably renamed the language 'Kim-rean' in his home country.


78.1m speak German across the world, with 69.8m of this coming from Germany and the rest from Switzerland, Austria and Poland.


84.3 million people speak Javanese apparently! Never heard of it? It's the native language of Indonesia, which makes up 84.2 million of its speakers!


Spoken in large numbers in Pakistan and less-so in India, Lahnda has a total of 88,700,000 million speakers... and you probably didn't even know it existed.


128 million speak Japanese, 128 million of which come from Japan.

Strange that.

View of the towers of the Kremlin and the Moscva City. View from top of Hotel Baltschug Kempinski.

Being the geographical giant it is, you may have thought Russian would be right up the top of this list, but only (we say only...) 166 million people speak the language. That total is split between the motherland (138 million), Ukraine, Latvia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and numerous others.


India and Bangladesh speak Bengali, and in big numbers. 82.5m speak it in the former and 106 million in the latter, and 189,000,000 wish Mpora was written in the language all in all!

Cheering woman under brazilian flag

Portugal isn't such a big country - in fact, only 10 million of the 203 million Portuguese speakers world wide are based there. 187m meanwhile are based in Brazil, with Mozambique also having over one million speakers.


242,000,000 people speak Arabic in the world. This is one of the most diversely spread languages, which Egypt being the home of the land with 72.7m speakers, but Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, Sudan, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco also having well more than 10m speakers each and various other countries also adopting the language.


Hindi is the natural language of India, where a booming 258m speakers make up the majority of its 260m speakers.

Traditional english breakfast and mug of tea

English comes in at third place with 335m speakers, 225m of which come from the US and 55.6m of which come from the UK - although that's counting folk from Liverpool, Newcastle, Wales and Scotland, where the locals more mumble, exclaim or just make weird noises rather than actually talking.

As well as the two aforementioned, Canada has 19.4m speakers, Australia 15.6m, and South Africa, Ireland, New Zealand and Singapore also have well over 1m speakers.

Madrid, Spain financial district skyline at twilight.

Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world, with 399m users!

Again, Spain is far from the biggest country talking the language, with 38.4m speakers to Mexico's 103m, Argentina's 38.8m and Columbia's 41m.

The US also has 34.2m speakers, and Venezuela and Peru have over 20m as well.

Several towers of Great Wall of Chine near Mutianyu north from Beijing high in mountains at autumn with yellow trees

A frightening 1,197,000,000 people speak 'Chinese’, which as a macrolanguage includes different languages and dialects; Gan (20.6m speakers), Hakka (30.1m), Huizhou (4.6m), Jinyu (45m), Min Bei (10.3m), Min Nan (46.6m), Pu-Xian (2.56m), Ziang (36m), Cantonese (62.2m), Wu (77.2m), Min Zhong (3.10m), Min Dong (9.12m) and of course Mandarin (848m)

It's spoken primarily in China by 1,152m people, but also in Taiwain, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Myanmar, Macau, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.