The Most Widely Spoken Language
Which language has entered common usage in the greatest number of countries?
December 31, 2017
1. Setting aside the question of the greatest number of speakers, one language has a clear lead for common usage in the greatest number of countries: English.
2. There are 110 countries where English is spoken natively, officially or widely as a second language. No other language is spoken as widely across countries.
3. Much of English’s internationality is due historically to the reach of the British Empire around the globe.
4. Other key factors include the dominance of the United States and United Kingdom in world economic and also cultural affairs over the past two centuries.
5. The largest native-speaker population of English lives in the United States (225 million speakers of English as a first language).
6. They are followed by the United Kingdom (55.6 million), Canada (19.4 million) and Australia (15.6 million). Other key countries are South Africa, Ireland, New Zealand and Singapore.
7. English as a native language, as opposed to a second or official language, is the third most common in the world by number of speakers (335 million).
8. After English, the next most widely spoken language in terms of country presence is Arabic, which is commonly spoken in 60 countries.
9. There are 242 million native Arabic speakers worldwide, most of them in North Africa and the Middle East.
10. The next most widely spoken languages by country presence are French (51 countries), Chinese (33 countries) and Spanish (31 countries).
Sources: The Globalist Research Center, UNESCO, World Economic Forum