Whether you are planning a trip, looking to do international business, or you’re creating video content and considering using a voice over agency (https://matinee.co.uk/voice-over-agency/ are very good) to make it more accessible, a good starting place is understanding the most common languages spoken around the world. Let’s take a look at the most frequently spoken languages worldwide and where you’re most likely to hear them:
English – 1,500 Million Speakers Worldwide
English is spoken as a first language across the world, with many people speaking it as a second language to some degree in most countries. It’s mostly spoken in the US and UK, but you will also hear it in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Ireland and Liberia (as well as many other countries).
Chinese (Mandarin) – 1,100 Million Speakers Worldwide
The main countries you will hear Mandarin Chinese are: China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. Mandarin is the only official language in China, but there are many regional languages, such as Cantonese.
Hindi – 602 Million Speakers Worldwide
Hindi is an official language of India along with English. You will also commonly hear the language spoken in Nepal, Mauritius, the US and in the United Arab Emirates.
Spanish – 548 Million Speakers Worldwide
Spanish is widely spoken across the world and is the official language of a massive 18 countries. Because of this, it is considered a global language and is a really great choice if you’re looking to learn a language that can be understood in a lot of places.
French – 274 Million Speakers Worldwide
French is spoken worldwide and is the official language of various countries including Belgium, France, Cameroon, Canada, Guinea, Niger and more. In France alone there are 28 or more accents or dialects for the different regions of France, so if you’re getting a French voice over for your marketing specifically targeted to France, do ensure it is localised otherwise it may fall flat.
Arabic – 274 Million Speakers Worldwide
Arabic is known as a ‘business language’ essential for global business trading and deals. The language is also spoken across the world in many different countries including: Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, The United Arab Emirates and more.
Bengali – 272 Million Speakers Worldwide
Bengali is spoken across the Middle East, the UK, The US, Bangladesh and India.
Russian – 258 Million Speakers Worldwide
Russia is the official language of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and is also spoken across the Ukraine, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania and additional countries (particularly former soviet countries).
Portuguese – 257 Million Speakers Worldwide
Portuguese is the official language of Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau, São Tomé and Príncipe. It is also spoken across various other countries.
Urdu – 231 Million Speakers Worldwide
Urdu is spoken most commonly in India and Pakistan, although there are significant amounts of the population of the UK, US and United Arab Emirates who also speak Urdu.
Indonesian – 199 Million Speakers Worldwide
Indonesian is the official language of Indonesia, although you will also hear it spoken in the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, The Netherlands and more. There also a huge amount of Indonesian dialects in Indonesia, over 800 in fact, so if you are trying to place advertising in the country of any kind, do use a professional service for translation to ensure that it is localised and accurate.
German – 134 Million Speakers Worldwide
Six countries have German as their official language, including: Switzerland, Luxembourg, Germany, Belgium, Austria and Liechtenstein. The majority of people who speak German live in Germany, but there are pockets of German speakers across the world in Russia, Romania, Denmark and more.
Japanese – 125 Million Speakers Worldwide
Japanese is spoken across the world not only in Japan, but in: the US, Brazil, Guam, Hawaii, Australia, Thailand, China and Canada.
If you are planning on using different languages in your business project, or you want to learn a language, it helps to know which languages are the most commonly spoken, so that you can make an informed choice. If you do utilise any professional services for translation, do make sure the service you use is highly rated and experienced, so that you can be sure the voice over, subtitles or translation you get is as accurate and impactful as possible.