How Many Languages In The World
The question often arises as to how many languages exist in the world. A random sampling of New Yorkers found the average person estimated that no more than a few hundred languages exist in the world. According to Dr. Dennis O'Neil of Palomar College, there are approximately 5,000 to 6,000 different languages spoken in the world. This estimate is only an approximation because some dialects are in the process of diverging, but have yet to become their own language.
The Linguistic Society of America admits people expect linguists to have a clear and precise notion of how many languages exist in the world, but “it turns out, however, that there is no such definite count—or at least, no such count that has any status as a scientific finding of modern linguistics." Another respected voice on linguistic studies, The Ethnologue Organization, created an authoritative, detailed classified list that recorded 6, 809 distinct languages. However, this classified list is just another scholarly educated guess as to how many languages there actually are in the world.
The Linguistic Society of America believes two factors play a significant role in why we are not sure how many languages exist. The society states that it is not merely because we have not explored the highland of New Guinea or the Amazon forests to ascertain the range of people living there, but also because “the very notion of enumerating languages is a lot more complicated than it might seem.”
Even though linguists are uncertain as to how many languages exist in the world, they do know the most common languages spoken. The number one most common language in the world is Mandarin Chinese. Hindi is second, and English is third. And while English is the third most spoken language, it is actually the most distributed language worldwide.