The Most Multilingual Countries?

Photo source : here

How many languages can you speak?
How many languages your country speak?
Okay, keep it by yourself
I believe most of world’s people are at least bilingual, either naturally or academically, even many are also polyglots. You can speak two, three or more languages depend on individual basis. Some are monolingual by various reasons, such as, he or she think that everybody learns their language, so that they don’t need effort to master other languages or another reason is little or almost no contact with other languages. In my opinion, being at least bilingual is important as it will give you plus score and getting more opportunities in many fields.

Many countries basically have multilingual societies, but some are sadly monolingual as I ever read like the US, around 75% of its population speak English only, and maybe others say they are in sad state of affairs. Speaking at least two languages are believed to improve brain efficiency and performance, and luckily more than half people on the world are bilingual.

What are the most multilingual countries based of their official language? In my personal opinion, they are :
1. Luxembourg : The populations are grown up speaking fluent French as well as French-sprinkled German, learning English at school and talking to each other with Luxembourgish (Letzebuergesch).
2. Switzerland : Switzerland has four official languages : Swiss German, French, Italian and Rumansh. English, however, is also spoken widely and gains the popularity among Swiss people.
3. Aruba : Dutch is one of Arubian official languages. Spoken in the formal or education matters. Because of its proximity to the USA and Latin American countries, English and Spanish are also imposed in school, so almost all Arubians can speak English and Spanish fluently, while they speak Dutch and Papiamento (the creolized iberian languages) as their mother tongue.
4. Singapore : English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil are both officially recognized there. Singaporeans also speak Singlish (a hybrid creolized English with Chinese, Malay and Indian sprinkles). Among Chinese themselves, many still speak their ancestral dialects like Hokkian, Teochew, Cantonese, Hakka though most of them, particularly younger generations speak Mandarin.
5. Malaysia : Fewer official languages, but most Malaysians can speak Malay and English along with their ancestral languages. English and Malay are compulsory at schools though there are also Chinese and Indian (Tamil) schools. A variety of English (Manglish) is spoken on the streets.
6. South Africa : Shockingly, South Africa has got 11 official languages. Most South Africans can speak English as well as their ancestral languages. Afrikaans, a Dutch’s sister language is natively spoken in the southern and western parts, while Bantoid languages are spoken in the rest of it. Many South Africans are also fluent in two or three languages with various levels.

Meanwhile for language numbers (not related to official languages), there are six most multilingual countries I can see here.

1. Papua New Guinea : Its official languages are English, Tok Pisin (English-based creole) and Hiri Motu. There are 839 languages spoken all around country and even some of them are spoken only by less than 1000 people.
2. Indonesia (my country) : There are 742 languages spoken from the northernmost tip of Sumatera to the easternmost tip of Papua. 13 of 742 languages have more than one million speakers and 271 languages are actually spoken solely in Indonesian part of Papua. Javanese has the most numerous speakers with around 40% of Indonesians speak it as mother tongue. However there are around 139 languages in endangered even moribund situations and 14 languages have already been extinct. Despite of the language diversity, the official language is only one : Bahasa Indonesia.
3. Nigeria : It has got 526 languages spoken such as Hausa, Fulani, Yoruba, Igbo and many more languages. However, English serves as official language and taught at school as well as formal situations. A variety of English based pidgin is also spoken among Nigerians.
4. India : Hindi and English are the official languages. But every states has also their own official languages. There are around 454 languages including several immigrant languages spoken around India. The major languages are : Hindustani (Hindi or Urdu), Bengali, Marathi, Punjabi, Kashmiri, Assamese, Gujarati, Telugu, Kannada, Tamil and Malayalam.
5. United States : Almost a half of 422 languages spoken there are immigrants. While the rests are the native American languages. Sadly many of them are dwindling, moribund and extinct. English, Spanish, Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese and French are some of the commonest languages spoken there. But surely mostly just speak or know English.
6. China : Mandarin is spoken by more than 1 billion populations either as mother tongue or second language. However there are 300 languages spoken among Chinese. Besides Mandarin, Cantonese, Wu, Hakka, Teochew, Hokkien have huge speakers. Zhuang, Mongol, Uighur, Tibetan, Miao, Yi and Korean are also spoken by more than 1 million speakers.

It sounds fun as if  going to a marketplace where you can hear anybody speaking in various accents and dialects. Languages is dynamic, it can develop into the great or moribund until extinct. Monolingualism is  actually decreasing as many people have willingness to learn more languages, as mastering another language (at least one international language or whatever you wish) open your chance for the world.

From various resources

15 Comments Add yours

  1. Casey says:

    I love languages and accents, and you’re right – a multicultural marketplace is always fabulous.

    1. Yes, I wish one day I could hear more and more out of my own country 🙂

  2. Mabel Kwong says:

    I speak English, Malay, some Cantonese and a bit of Chinese. Not enough 😂

    1. Btw, which language do you wanna master then?

      1. Mabel Kwong says:

        Many languages including Cantonese. I’m very ambitious 😂

      2. Mabel Kwong says:

        Yes, I am sure I want to learn Cantonese very well 😀

      3. Mabel Kwong says:

        I actually don’t know, lol.

      4. Hmmm….I think the standard is Hongkong Cantonese.

  3. Tamal says:

    Great post. Informative and inquisitive at the same time. I have also recently written about International Mother Language day..

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