What is a language?
Languages are defined as sounds used to express the needs and purposes of people. A language is a set of expressions recognized among a certain group of people. It has the same meaning for the whole group when arranged in a specific way. in general, it is a way of communication between humans within a certain geographical range. Since the beginning of the human ability to speak, many languages have been formed over centuries. Some of them have remained in use and alive, while most of them have disappeared. To classify the alive languages around the world we can distinguish them based on the Number of Speakers, Degree of Difficulty, Number of Words, and History.
Number of Speakers
It is difficult to count the number of people who speak a particular language, but there are many sources that provide information on the number of people who speak a specific language as a mother tongue or as a second language. The languages around the world can be arranged in terms of spread as follows:
it is the most popular language in the world. The language of business and technology. More than a billion and a half people speak it as a native language or as a secondary language. The percentage of English speakers around the world is approximately 20%. It is the official language in many countries, and its speakers spread around the whole world, including New Zealand, the United States, Australia, England, Zimbabwe, the Caribbean, Hong Kong, South Africa, and Canada.
The percentage of its speakers is around 15%, and their number exceeds one billion people. It is the language of the state of China with the largest population in the world. The Chinese language does not contain alphabetical letters but uses pictorial symbols instead, so each word has its own pictogram. The Chinese language is also spoken in Taiwan and Singapore, and it is worth noting that Mandarin contains a large number of dialects.
The number of speakers of this language is around 4.46% of the world’s population. Hindi is an official language in India and the Fiji Islands, South Africa, Mauritius, Yemen, Uganda, and even in the United States.
The percentage of its speakers in the world is 6.6%. It is one of the oldest languages in the world, and the majority of its speakers are in the Middle East and North Africa, especially the Arab countries. There are a lot of people who like to learn Arabic because it is the language of the Holy Qur’an, and in 1974 it was adopted as an official language at the United Nations.
The percentage of Spanish speakers in the world is 6.25%, and their number reaches nearly 400 million people. It is spoken in Central and South American countries, in addition to Spain and parts of the United States of America.
The number of speakers is 3.95%, and they are distributed in many countries of the former Soviet Union, including Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. It is the most widespread Slavic language, and one of the official languages of the United Nations. In Ukraine and Lithuania, it is not considered an official language but it is spoken in a wide range of these countries.
The proportion of its speakers out of the world population is 3.19%, of whom about 120 million are residents of Bangladesh, and it is also the language of West Bengal state in India.
The number of speakers is 3.05%, and 32 countries use it as an official language. Most of those who speak French as a mother tongue is of French origin and the rest are spread between Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, and Africa.
The percentage of speakers of 2.77% around the world, and its origin is Germanic languages, and it is considered one of the most widespread mother languages in the European Union, and among the most famous countries that speak this language, Germany and Austria.
Degree of Difficulty
Languages differ in the degree of difficulty of learning them due to the different origins and circumstances of their origin. For example, the Chinese language does not contain letters, the Arabic language is distinguished by its great eloquence, and the Russian language with strange sounds of letters, so it is not possible to adopt specific criteria to determine the most difficult language, but a lot of things are taken into consideration in determining this matter. The order of the most difficult languages around the world can be arranged as follows:
- Turkish, Hindi, Russian, Vietnamese, Thai, Serbian, Greek, and Hebrew.
- Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Italian, Swedish, and French.
Number of words
A language by its nature is a group of words that a person arranges in an organized manner in order to give the intended meaning to them. Languages differ in the number of words they contain. Here is a list of some languages arranged according to the number of words they contain:
- Arabic: 12,302,912 words.
- English: 600,000 words.
- French: 150,000 words.
- Russian: 130,000 words.
Despite the development of languages throughout history, some languages are still used in the current era. Languages have undergone many processes of continuous development and modernization over time according to the climate, economic, social, political, and natural changes in the world. Which leads to a change in human concepts, awareness, and thinking. This in turn leads to the development of linguistic terminology and the emergence of new linguistic terms. The oldest languages in the world are:
The Greek language: It dates back to 1500 BC, and was the official language of the country of philosophers and thinkers in Greece.
The Tamil Language: This language, spoken by more than 75 million people, dates back to 300 BC and is an official language recognized in India and Singapore.
The Persian language: It is the official language of Iran and Tajikistan, and it dates back to the year 800 AD.
The Latin language: It is one of the most ancient languages in history, if not the most ancient, and it is the source of many modern languages, dating back to the year 45 BC in the era of the Roman Empire.
The Hebrew language is one of the oldest languages in the world. Where it stopped its use in the year 400 AD and returned to the scene with the rise of the Jews in the world, where it is now spoken by more than 9 million people spread around the world.
The Basque language: It is one of the most distinct languages. As the origins of this language do not belong to any language existing in the world.