“A world of languages” is a fascinating infographic created by Alberto Lucas Lopéz for the South China Morning Post. It highlights the most spoken languages in the world, and what countries actually speak them. The results may surprise you, so have a look:

Lopez explains:

“There are at least 7,102 known languages alive in the world today. Twenty-three of these languages are a mother tongue for more than 50 million people. The 23 languages make up the native tongue of 4.1 billion people. We represent each language within black borders and then provide the numbers of native speakers (in millions) by country. The colour of these countries shows how languages have taken root in many different regions.”

The information is based on data from Ethnologue, a comprehensive reference work cataloging all of the world’s known living languages since 1951. To see the full 2000px wide resolution of this pie chart click here.

So, what do you think? Did you expect the world’s language proportion to look like this? Did it change your perception? Leave your reply in the comments.

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  1. 1

    Sorry, but that’s not a pie chart. It’s a proportional chart. Not your fault; I blame Mr. Lopéz who created and apparently mislabeled it.

    This is a pie chart:

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    Yes, Pie chart invented by William Playfair. Problem with this chart is that the Americans don’t speak English very well. Could be classified as another language

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    There’s a lot of Africans who speak better French than most French that have been omited.

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    What’s with that strange graphic of countries in which this language is spoken? Two for Japan… 18 for Germany. Did Germany win the second war or something? Surely that should have been qualified. Ukrainian is probably spoken in about 50 countries as it has such a big diaspora. And with the dominance of Russian after the fall of the Soviet Union how could it be behind Germany in countries where it is spoken?

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    I suggest the results are not inclusive enough. English is spoken and used in nearly every country on the planet. Most other languages are spoken and used in their home countries and a few others. One can go just about anywhere and speak English while Vietnamese and Hindi are essentially useless in Guatemala and Sudan.

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    The largest omission that I can find by far is the largest French speaking population in the world. The Democratic Republic of Congo. Which has a population of about 77 million. Thus doubling itself in proportion to the other languages.

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    I don’t think anyone calls Punjabi “Lahnda”. I myself have been learning Punjabi since 3 years and today is the first time I hear this name. Fix it please.

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