How many people do speak German?

Only 1.571% of the world speaks German

A globe with various country flags
A globe with various country flags

Why learn German, you may ask? Please read on.

There are about 7,000 languages worldwide. Many languages are threatened by extinction, especially languages natives speak in Asia and America.

Only a handful of people speak some languages. More than 50% of languages have less than 10,000 speakers; more than 25% have less than 1,000 speakers. 4% of the world population speak 96% of all languages. From a different angle: 96% of the world population speak 4% of all languages. People should easily communicate, but they cannot because 4% represents 270 languages.

Eight languages are so-called world languages with more than 150 million speakers each: Chinese, English, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Portuguese, Bangla and Russian.

German, Latin, Slavic and Greek are all Indo-European languages. It is thought that all languages originate from one language over 100,000 years ago.

Approximately 150 languages are spoken in Europe, of which 40 are spoken in the Caucasus region alone.

Most languages exist in Africa and Asia. Top of the chart is Papua New Guinea, with 820 languages.

Only ⅓ of all languages have written forms. Most languages are solely spoken.

There were 9000 languages in 1000 B.C. Today we are left with 7,000 languages. The number of languages is in decline. Dominating countries are the cause, as is the wish to communicate in a globalised world.

If I have done my homework correctly, I can say with certainty that 1.571% of the world population speaks German. You may wonder if there is any need to learn German. Yes, because that percentage represents over 110 million people, most of whom live in Europe.

3 thoughts on “How many people do speak German?

  • I like and enjoy your blog, Stefan. As an educated native English speaker, I would say (assuming – am I correct? – that German was your first language) that your English is at least up to native speaker standard. However, it is not always correct.

    For example, “less than 10,000 speakers” should be “fewer than 10,000 speakers”, The total number of speakers is countable. If I say, “I should put less milk in my tea”, the milk (itself) is not countable (but I would say, “I should put fewer spoonfuls of sugar in my tea.” Sugar is not countable (grains of sugar are) but spoonfuls (spoonsful is permissible, but archaic) of sugar can definitely be counted.

    The last clause in your piece should read, “most of whom live in Europe”. A long time ago “which” was used, but it is nowadays so archaic as to be incorrect.

    Having said (pontificated?) that, I think a goodly proportion (perhaps even a numerical majority) of native speakers would have written what you did. A majority usage does not make something immediately correct (imo).

    • Hello Bruce, thank you for that. Yes, am a native German speaker and try to get my blog posts right, but sometimes these are written in a haste and I not always get someone to check them over. Do I now correct my blog post or leave it as it is? Stefan

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