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How many languages are there world-wide?

23 June 2010

Well, according to Ethnologue there are currently 6,909 languages world-wide. But let’s be honest, how many languages are really spoken by a majority of people in a country? As I am watching the world cup right now I checked out how many member associations the FIFA has – the teams need to communicate in one language, right? There are 208 members, more than the 192 UN member states. That’s quite cool. So my educated guess is that there are about 150-200 “major” languages in the world (yes, I know, some countries speak the same language, but other countries have multiple official languages so I guess it levels out somehow).
So, most of us speak at least one foreign language and we’ve heard of many others some of which we probably even can distinguish from others when we hear them. Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to understand all those languages we’ve never even heard of? I found a website called Worldlingo which offer free and professional translation in 141 languages! Now, how cool is that? Amharic, Assamese, Baluchi, Bashkir, Dinka, Dogri… to name just a few from the top of a very long list.

Image credit: SXC.hu

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