Although a small continent, Europe is home to hundreds of languages and 748 million people. Its geographical expanse is relatively small, yet it accommodates several languages and cultures. There are so many languages because dozens of countries with different historical backgrounds live in Europe. Practically, these languages are not all spoken at the same rate by people. Therefore, this article ranks the top ten (10) most spoken languages in Europe for you.
Languages in Europe
There are 24 official languages spoken in Europe; Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish and Swedish. The other languages spoken on the continent are about 200 in number.
In Europe, it is common to see bilinguals. More than half of Europeans are bilingual. That is, they can speak in another language (s) in addition to their mother tongue. Also, about 25% are trilingual, and 10% can speak four languages.
Groups of Languages
The European languages are divided into two major groups; the Indo-European and the Non-Indo-European divisions. The Indo-European languages include French, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, Baltic, Celtic, Germanic, Indo-Iranian, and Slavic. While the non-Indo-European are Finnic, Finno Ugric, and Basque. Although there are many languages, they sound and look similar, this is because they belong to these divisions as mentioned above.
Only acknowledging the population for native speakers of a language rather than a combination of second or third language speakers, here is a list:
In Europe, Russian is the most spoken language, with about 140 million native speakers. It is the official language of Belarus and Russia. The language alphabet system uses the Cyrillic alphabet, unlike other languages that use the Latin alphabet. Russian is widely used in eastern European countries
German is the second largest spoken language in Europe, with a population of a little over 94 million people. It is the official language of Germany, Liechtenstein, and Austria. Also, it is a co-official language of Luxembourg and Switzerland. You may need certified German translation services if you are visiting it for the first time due to language differentiations.
In third place is French. French is the official language of France and the co-official language of Luxembourg, Belgium, and Switzerland. There are about 80 million native French speakers in Europe, and with consideration to people with French as their second language, French accounts for 30 percent of the population in Europe.
Next on the list is Turkish, the official language of Turkey, and it accounts for 78million native speakers in Europe. It is a co-official language around the Mediterranean and Cypress. In Germany alone, Turkish speakers are about 1.3 million people
Italian, the official language of Italy and co-official of Switzerland and the Vatican City. With the expansive Italian culture, it’s no surprise that the language is one of the top on the list.
Although English is a global language spoken worldwide by over 360million native speakers, it does not rank first in Europe. English only accounts for 60 million people living in Europe. As a second language, speakers of the English language may number one-third of the European population.
About a 43million people are native speakers of Spanish in Europe. Spain is known for luxury and great relaxation. Usually, it is the dream destination of a lot of people for summer vacation and prides itself in delicacies, stunning tourism spots, and warmth.
Polish is not so renowned, but it accounts for 36 million Europeans who are natives. Most of this population lives in Poland, but other countries that speak Polish as a second language include Hungary, Belarus, Czech, and Ukraine.
27 million native speakers speak this language globally, and most of them live in Europe. Ukraine has the largest land span in Europe.
Dutch is the official language of the Netherlands and co-official of Belgium. There are 22 million Dutch native speakers in Europe.
Deciding the most spoken languages in Europe is a tasking one since everyone has a touch of each language. However, based on nativity, this list has been compiled to give an overview of the language system in Europe. Europe is the second smallest continent geographically. However, it houses hundreds of languages. Each language portrays the identity and culture of her people and speakers in all glamor.
In all, languages are beautiful, and exploring them is a great thing too. Europe is an island of abundant languages. Explore Europe and learn her languages, if possible. You will be glad you did.