Did you know the Top 10 List of Most Spoken Languages in the World in our Education-Work-Facts category? Similarly, Asia is the geographically largest and most populated of the seven continents in the world. The large population is also accompanied by a large number of languages. So what are the Top 10 Most Spoken Languages in Asia? The World’s #1 Source of Research-Based Content, The Daily Top 10 has explored the statistics and we have collated the below list to explore the varieties of languages and the number of speakers of each of the Top 10 Most Spoken Languages in Asia.
Why is language important? Without language we as humans would not be able to communicate our thoughts and feelings and share information with others. According to Wondrium Daily, spoken language originated approximately 150,000 years ago while the written language has a history of only 6,000 years. Now we have many mediums of communication that enable us to communicate with people all over the globe. But the fundamental key to all communication is language and that is why we are taking a look at Asia to see what languages are most in use in this vast region.
Do you know what are the Top 10 Most Spoken Languages in Asia? The answer may surprise you along with the number of speakers of this language. So, read on to find out more. Do you like to browse for the Top 10 Best Universities for Special Education in Asia? It will be worth reading before starting our journey of Most Spoken Languages in Asia.
What is the Most Spoken Language in Asia?
Asia is a land of history and culture. According to Wondrium Daily, languages across the world tend to share some similar sounding words in otherwise vastly different languages. They believe that all languages evolved from a common root language but were modified and changed according to the use of different nationalities and geographic regions. Have you ever found a word from your language in a different language that means the same thing? This is a result of the theory of the common beginnings of languages.
So what is the Most Spoken Language in Asia? We have the answer waiting for you at the end. Let’s take a look at our other nine languages before we find out.
TOP 10: Marathi (99 million)
Marathi is a language most commonly, but not exclusively, found in India. The language is rooted in the Indo-Aryan language which is the common root of many languages in South Asia. According to Globalization Partners, Marathi is also spoken in Israel and Mauritius. The Marathi language has different dialects which are Maharashtrian, Konkani and Varhadi.
The most common language in India is Hindi and Marathi is its linguistic cousin. They share many characteristics such as words and phrases and they are both written using the Devanagari script. (TribuneIndia). The language was declared the official language of Maharashtra in 1966. A word in Marathi – ‘Lakshat Thev’ – Remember this.
TOP 9: Punjabi (100 million)
Panjabi is also an Indo-Aryan Language. It is spoken in both India and Pakistan which gives it a larger regional coverage. According to The Polyglot Files, Punjabi and Hindi share a lexical similarity of 57.63% meaning the degree to which sets of words from two different languages are similar.
A surprising statistic shows that the larger number of people who speak Punjabi as their mother tongue are found in Pakistan; a staggering 48.2% of their population when compared to the 2.8% in India. (WorldDataInfo). It is not the official language of any country but is named as the official language of the State of Punjab in India. So, if you want to Top 10 Best and Most Popular Places to Visit in Asia, learning Panjabi will be a great help for you. A Word in Punjabi – ‘Rab raakhaan’ – God be with you.
TOP 8: Japanese (120 million)
Japan is one of the Top 10 Most Technologically Advanced Countries in Asia and Japanese is the official language of Japan. It is referred to in Japan as ‘Nihongo’, which in Japanese is ‘Nihon’ – Japan and ‘Go’ – Language. According to Real Estate Tokyo, native English speakers have a hard time learning Japanese as its sentence structure is the complete opposite of the sentence structures of the English language.
The Japanese language is written using three alphabets. Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji. Kanji is a pictorial alphabet and the complex symbols are similar to Chinese characters. However, as stated in Language Tutor, though similar, the characters can have different meanings in both languages as the Kanji alphabet was inspired by traditional Chinese but not based on it. There are many Japanese words with no direct English translation as they have words to convey a profound thought or feeling. A word in Japanese – ‘Wabi-sabi’. Finding beauty within the imperfections of life and peacefully accepting the natural cycle of growth and decay.
TOP 7: Persian (130 million)
Persian is also referred to as Farsi in Iran where it is the official language. There are another two varieties of Persian; ‘Dari’ which is the official language of Afghanistan and ‘Tajik’, the official language of Tajikistan (Britannica). Persian is written using Arabic letters and as such has many ‘loanwords’ from the Arabic language.
According to Academy Publication, Hindi has been influenced by the Persian Language. Because although the language shares an alphabet with Arabic, it is an Indo-Iranian language which is under the Indo-European family. Sanskrit is the base language from which Persian and languages like Hindi and Urdu also originated. A word in Persian – ‘Jân’ (jan)- life and soul.
TOP 6: Bengali (230 million)
It is the official and national language of Bangladesh. Bengali is spoken by 98% of Bangladeshi people, and, in India, it has managed to secure the number two spot from among the 23 official languages spoken in India. (Wikipedia). In Bangladesh, it was declared mandatory to use Bengali in all records and correspondences, proceedings of court, laws, and other legal actions in all courts, government or semi-government offices, and private institutions in Bangladesh by The Bengali Language Implementation Act, 1987.
Bengali emerged as an Indo-Aryan language in 900-1000 AD. Rabindranath Tagore, a famed Nobel Laureate of Bengal, composed the national anthems of India and Bangladesh in Bengali language. It is also believed that the national anthem of Sri Lanka was composed with inspiration from a Bengali poem by Tagore. There are some who even believe that it was originally written in Bengali and translated to Sinhala, the official language of Sri Lanka. A word in Bengali – ‘Aabar dekha hobe’ – Goodbye. (but it also means – Goodbye and we’ll meet again).
TOP 5: Arabic (231 million)
You may already know that Arab is one of the Top 10 Richest Countries in Asia by GDP Per Capita. As well, Arabic is a semitic language which is a branch of Afroasiatic languages and is spoken commonly throughout the Arab world. Eton Institute states that Arabic is categorised into Classical Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic and Dialectal (Colloquial) Arabic. The language has been around for over a 1000 years and was originally spoken by nomadic tribes.
It is estimated that Arabic is one of the most difficult languages to learn, with similar difficulty to learning Japanese, Korean and Chinese. The average native English speaker would need around one and a half years (80 weeks) with 2,200 hours of consistent study to learn the language. The most spoken variant of Arabic is Egyptian Arabic with approximately 60 million speakers. A word in Arabic – ‘Ghalabni’ – It defeated me.
TOP 4: Russian (260 million)
Russia accounts for 11% of the total land coverage of the world and is the largest country in the world and their official language is Russian. Russian is an Indo-European language that belongs to the Slavic language family. A large percentage of Slavic languages are written using the cyrillic script which is the designated official script for around 50 various languages used across Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Siberia. (Duolingo).
While being the 4th Most Spoken Language in Asia, Russian is also the 8th most spoken language in the world according to our Top 10 List of Most Spoken Languages in the World. Its roots go back around 4000 to 6000 years. In comparison with Western languages, Russian is distinct in its dialect and sound. It has twice as many vowel sounds and additional consonants which gives it a unique sound. A word in Russian – ‘uyedin’éniye’ – a state of being alone without being lonely.
TOP 3: Indonesian (261 million)
Interestingly, Indonesians speak a form of Malay which is virtually identical to the Malay language used in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. It is called Bahasa Indonesia by the natives while its counterpart used by the above countries is called Bahasa Melayu. The Asia Society suggests that the term Indonesian has a more political function than a linguistic one.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations uses Indonesian as one of its official languages in spite of this particular variant of Malay being used officially solely in Indonesia. Unlike the other languages in our list so far, Indonesian is relatively easy for native English speakers to learn, mainly because of the use of the Latin alphabet and its grammar and vocabulary being largely simple. A word in Indonesian – ‘Jodoh’ – something that is just meant to be. If you need more articles from Indonesia, check out our Indonesia country profile.
TOP 2: Hindi (550 million)
The Number 2 language in our list has a staggering 550,000,000 number of speakers. Not surprising since it belongs to the number 2 most populated country in the world, India. Hindi is the official language of India and is of Indo-European origin and comes under the Indo-Aryan branch. It is a language with a long history and Wikipedia states that the first Hindi literature made its appearance around the 12th and 13th centuries.
Interestingly, English has borrowed many words from the Hindi language. Some words are Cashmere, Bungalow, Dungarees, Chutney, Bandana, Gymkhana and even the word Jungle. The 14th of September is celebrated in India as Hindi Language Day. The Hindi language is easy to learn once you master the alphabet. The reason for this is each letter in the alphabet has its own distinct sound and pronunciation so Hindi words are spoken exactly as they are written. A word in Hindi – ‘Raabta’ – Inexplicable connection with another soul.
TOP 1: Mandarin Chinese (1.2 billion)
From China, the most populated country in the World, we have Mandarin Chinese topping our list of Most Spoken Languages in Asia. One of the most complicated languages to learn and speak as Chinese people tend to speak very rapidly. According to Language Courses UK, from among the different forms of Chinese language, Mandarin Chinese is the most dominant.
At some point in our lives, all of us have encountered some form of the Chinese written language since China is a large exporter of products globally. The alphabet consists of an estimated 100,000 characters although only 2,500 are used in daily life. Language Courses UK also states that the spoken words in Mandarin Chinese are differentiated using tones. Mandarin has four tones and an additional neutral tone. A word in Chinese – ‘sì shuǐ liú nián’ – youth passes as a fleeting wave, or, time passing swiftly like flowing water. Accordingly, Mandarin is the Most Spoken Language in Asia.
What are the Most Spoken Languages in Asia?
In a region which covers 30% of the land cover of the world and houses five of the most populated countries in the world, it’s hard to keep track of how people are communicating. However, our list of the Top 10 Most Spoken Languages in Asia gives us a glimpse of the languages which are most in use across the various countries. These languages are also spoken in other regions but we have given our numbers according to the Asian population.
Let’s take one more look at our Top 10 Most Spoken Languages in Asia:
- Mandarin Chinese
It was an interesting journey across Asia and it gave us an insight into how the languages are connected in unexpected ways due to their origin or use of shared alphabets. Do you love to read more articles from Asia? Then check out the Top 10 Best and Highest Paying In-demand Jobs in Asia, Top 10 Most Popular Fast Food Restaurants in Asia and Top 10 Asia’s Best Places to Celebrate Chinese New Year. Finally, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below and let us at the Daily Top 10 Team know how many of these languages you can speak.
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