The Linguasphere Register

of the world’s languages and speech communities

Preliminary estimates on the major languages of the world

Volume 1, page 83

(as recorded on pages 291-294 and 300)

To be completed

See also

  • Statistics

    (including scale of voices in column 5 of the Register). The scale of voices records a single-digit representation (or democode) of the numbers of speakers of a particular language, estimated at the end of the 20th century and expressed as orders of magnitude: 0 = "extinct during the 20th century" or (0) = "extinct before the 20th century" 1 = "less than 100 voices at the end of the 20th century" 2 = over 100 voices ("numbered in hundreds") 3 = over 1,000 voices ("numbered in thousands") 4 = over 10,000 voices ("numbered in tens of thousands") 5 = over 100,000 voices (...)

  • Megalanguages and macrolanguages Volume 1, page 83

    For practical purposes, a distinction is made between 12 megalanguages, each comprising more than 100 million voices (or speakers), and 63 macrolanguages, each comprising between 10 and 100 million. As world populations rise, more languages reach and pass the total of 10 million voices, but the difficulties involved in estimating totals for each language should not be underestimated. The table of major languages relates to spoken languages only, since the 20th century has seen the spoken word achieve powers of global transmission not previously dreamed of. This new situation requires (...)

  • Arterial languages Volume 1, page 86

    It was during the final preparation of this framework edition of the Register that it was decided to adopt as well as an absolute measurement of major languages in the modern world. Whereas macrolanguages and megalanguages are defined in terms of absolute numbers, the concept of arterial languages is defined in terms of the current population of the world, whatever that may be at any time. An arterial language is defined as a language understood by one percent or more of humankind, in others words by at least sixty million speakers and hearers in 1999/2000, when the world population is (...)

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