Mapped: How Many Languages Are There in the World?

Maps + Infographics
by Morgane Croissant Apr 13, 2017

I COME FROM a part of France that likes to think of itself as separate from the rest of the country: Brittany. So much so that if I had been born 50 years earlier I would probably have been speaking Breton rather than French with my immediate relatives. But with time and “unifying” language policies, Breton has faded in the background and French has taken over.

Each pin on Ethnologue‘s map represents one of the 7,099 languages spoken today in the world and, although the majority of them (two-thirds) are from Asia and Africa, I am able to locate Breton among the multitude of yellow pins and find its profile. Because of an incredible revival, Breton’s status says “shifting”, but 25 years ago, it probably said, “endangered“, like a third of all languages today.

Looking at this map, it is clear that languages are spread unequally around the world; Papua New Guinea has 840 languages, more than twice as much as the number of languages spoken across Europe, and Asia is swarming with purple pins.

To see specific language names and obtain details, you just need to hover over the pins and click to check out the language’s profile.

What language do YOU speak? Did you find it on the map? What is its status? Leave a comment below.

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