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Diversidade linguistica do Mundo

Diversité linguistique du monde
Kazimierz Zaniewski

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  • 1 Lewis, M. Paul (ed.), 2009. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SI (...)

1According to the latest edition of Ethnologue: Languages of the World1, there are 6,909 languages spoken in the world today. They belong to 116 different linguistic families. The six largest families are Niger-Congo (1510 languages), Austronesian (1231), Trans-New Guinea (475), Sino-Tibetan (445), Indo-European (426), and Afro-Asiatic (353). Over 64 percent of languages belong to one of these families, and they are spoken by over five billion people (five-sixths of the world’s population). The Chinese language has the largest number of speakers (1.2 billion) while English, although spoken by only 328 million people, is the most popular language in the world (spoken in 112 countries). India and parts of Southeast Asia, Oceania, and Sub-Saharan Africa are linguistically the most diverse regions in the world. High linguistic diversity in many countries has been responsible for ethnic tensions and political instability. Parts of Latin America and the Caribbean Islands, some European countries, Japan and both Koreas are characterized by low linguistic diversity. Among the largest countries in the world, India and Nigeria show the greatest and Brazil and Japan the lowest degree of linguistic diversity. The people of Papua New Guinea speak 820 different languages while people in North Korea and several Caribbean countries (e.g. Haiti, Cuba) speak only one or two languages. In most European countries and parts of the former Soviet Union (Central Asia and the Caucasus region) and the Middle East, a high proportion of spoken languages are non-native languages. This fact reflects the importance of international labor, and sometimes political, migration to as well as history of these areas.

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1 Lewis, M. Paul (ed.), 2009. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. Online version:

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Référence électronique

Kazimierz Zaniewski, « Diversidade linguistica do Mundo », Confins [En ligne], 9 | 2010, mis en ligne le 23 juillet 2010, consulté le 10 octobre 2015. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/confins.6529

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Kazimierz Zaniewski

Associate Professor, Department of Geography and Urban Planning, University of Wisconsin

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