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BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language

Arnie 14 Dec 03 - 04:13 PM
Nigel Parsons 14 Dec 03 - 04:21 PM
McGrath of Harlow 14 Dec 03 - 04:23 PM
Helen 14 Dec 03 - 04:40 PM
Raedwulf 14 Dec 03 - 04:42 PM
Liz the Squeak 14 Dec 03 - 04:42 PM
McGrath of Harlow 14 Dec 03 - 06:04 PM
Little Hawk 14 Dec 03 - 06:18 PM
Peace 14 Dec 03 - 06:49 PM
Hrothgar 15 Dec 03 - 04:00 AM
Roger the Skiffler 15 Dec 03 - 04:03 AM
Beverley Barton 15 Dec 03 - 04:50 AM
Dave Bryant 15 Dec 03 - 06:29 AM
Rapparee 15 Dec 03 - 08:50 AM
Kim C 15 Dec 03 - 09:56 AM
GUEST 15 Dec 03 - 10:29 AM
Dave Bryant 15 Dec 03 - 11:01 AM
Helen 15 Dec 03 - 11:15 AM
Joe Offer 15 Dec 03 - 11:30 AM
Arnie 15 Dec 03 - 03:40 PM
Uncle_DaveO 15 Dec 03 - 04:43 PM
GUEST,pdc 15 Dec 03 - 11:29 PM
An Pluiméir Ceolmhar 16 Dec 03 - 12:22 PM
Mr Red 16 Dec 03 - 04:49 PM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Dec 03 - 05:09 PM
GUEST,Donal 17 Dec 03 - 08:18 AM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Dec 03 - 01:45 PM
Helen 17 Dec 03 - 03:32 PM
GUEST 17 Dec 03 - 03:47 PM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Dec 03 - 03:52 PM
s&r 17 Dec 03 - 05:43 PM
Mr Red 18 Dec 03 - 05:52 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Dec 03 - 06:53 PM
Gareth 18 Dec 03 - 07:38 PM

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Subject: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: Arnie
Date: 14 Dec 03 - 04:13 PM

Tonight my Belgian friend told me that the most commonly spoken language in the world is English. However I have a feeling it is Spanish. My daughter thinks it is Chinese. Anyone know the answer to this one (and please tell me it's Spanish!!)

Cheers

Arnie


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 14 Dec 03 - 04:21 PM

Define the question!

Last time I read the stats Chinese had the most (first language) speakers as it is a highly populated country.
English was the most widely spoken (i.e. spoken over most of the globe to some extent), either as a first or second language. However, this does not differentiate betwen the various forms of English!
Spanish also has a large number of countries with Spanish as the main language, but is not as generally accepted as English as a second language.

Nigel


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Dec 03 - 04:23 PM

Here's a top ten for native speakers. But of course languages such as English are used/understood by many non-native speakers:

Chinese* (937,132,000)
Spanish (332,000,000)
English (322,000,000)
Bengali (189,000,000)
Hindi/Urdu (182,000,000)
Arabic* (174,950,000)
Portuguese (170,000,000)
Russian (170,000,000)
Japanese (125,000,000)
German (98,000,000)
French* (79,572,000)

* The totals given for Chinese, Arabic, and French include more than one SIL variety.

This site, from which I got that, brings lots of information about such matters together.


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: Helen
Date: 14 Dec 03 - 04:40 PM

AskMen.com

"When it comes to ranking languages of the world, there are two main ways to compute the list. One method is to rank by mother tongue: how many people consider the language to be their mother tongue.

"The second method is to rank by official language. We have scanned the various sources, cross-referenced them, tried to understand the discrepancies, and computed the following list of the ten most widely spoken languages on planet Earth"

1. Mandarin Chinese        1 billion
2. Hindi/Urdu               600 million
3. English               500 million
4. Spanish               350 to 400 million
etc

But
geographic.org

says that 1. Chinese/Mandarin has 885 million speakers, 2. Spanish has 332 million, 3. English has 322 million. This site lists the sub-groups of each language.

So it depends what you mean by "most widely spoken".

There are probably more statistics out there on the net which contradict both of these sites.

I did a Google.com search using the following search terms (with double quotes):

"most spoken language" world

Helen


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: Raedwulf
Date: 14 Dec 03 - 04:42 PM

Nigel gives you the most complete answer you will get. Numerically, more people speak "Chinese" (there are so many dialectical variations that I am not at all sure of either the definition of Chinese (Mandarin?), or of the number for whom it constitutes a first language), but English is spoken across the globe, either as first or second language, more than any other. Second place (in either context) might be Spanish, but it is also, arguably, French.

Given that English, nearly a century after colonialism effectively fell apart, is still the global lingua franca, I think this is probably the most convincing argument for "commonly".


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 14 Dec 03 - 04:42 PM

Gosh, and here was me thinking that the most widely spoken language was bollocks. After all, it's possible to talk bollocks in every known dialect, accent and language - I hear it all the time at work!

LTS


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Dec 03 - 06:04 PM

And it's pretty evident round here sometimes...


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: Little Hawk
Date: 14 Dec 03 - 06:18 PM

I think English is the most "widely-spoken", but that doesn't mean that it is the native language of the most people (it isn't). It is, however, the language which has the most widespread use in world media, entertainment, politics, and communications, as far as I know, and that is probably an after-effect of the power of the British Empire and the later American pre-eminence in World affairs.

As was once the case with Latin, when Rome was at its zenith of power...and Greek before that.

- LH


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: Peace
Date: 14 Dec 03 - 06:49 PM

Arnie: The wonderful responders are answering the first part of your question. I will answer the second. It's Spanish.

That isn't true, but I wanted to make your day for a second or two.


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: Hrothgar
Date: 15 Dec 03 - 04:00 AM

I would have thought that a much larger number of people spoke Cantonese - or has this been included in the Mandarin figure because the written language is the same?

Another possibility is that the campaign by the Communist Government in China to make Mandarin the single official language has been remarkably effective.

Any ideas?


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 15 Dec 03 - 04:03 AM

..but surely Hullish9 is catching up...

RtS


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: Beverley Barton
Date: 15 Dec 03 - 04:50 AM

Darlings, all this is very interesting, but english is the international language. Most people have it as a second language. It is also used as the sole language for air traffic control,therefore it was be the most commonly spoken.
         If you loves have any other queries, just ask your Aunty Beverley.


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 15 Dec 03 - 06:29 AM

There's even some evidence that jOhn from Hull speaks english as a second language !


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: Rapparee
Date: 15 Dec 03 - 08:50 AM

English is also the "language" for computers, much to the dismay of the French.

Not to be confused with computer languages....


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: Kim C
Date: 15 Dec 03 - 09:56 AM

Does anyone here speak Chinese? To my ear it sounds like a difficult language to understand.


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Dec 03 - 10:29 AM

I would say that more people speak Chinese but that English, of one sort or another is the most widely spoken; except in Newfoundland..ha ha.


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 15 Dec 03 - 11:01 AM

English is also the "language" for computers, much to the dismay of the French - Not to be confused with computer languages.... .

During the late 70s I was working on a project in France and IBM over there had produced a version of COBOL in French. There was, thank god, a translation program which would convert their source code into English.


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: Helen
Date: 15 Dec 03 - 11:15 AM

The geographic.org site I linked to before has these entries in their list of the 50 Most Widely Spoken Languages in the World:

1. Chinese, Mandarin Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Singapore, S. Africa, Taiwan, Thailand
885 million

11. Chinese, Wu China 77.2 million

18. Chinese, Yue(Cantonese) Brunei, China, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Malaysia, Panama, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam 66 million

23. Chinese, Min Nan Brunei, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand 49 million

24. Chinese, Jinyu China 45 million

29. Chinese, Xiang China 36 million

31. Chinese, Hakka Brunei, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Panama, Singapore, Suriname, Taiwan, Thailand 34 million

45. Chinese, Gan China 20.6 million

If you add all of these figures together you get 1212.8 million people who speak a version of Chinese.

Helen


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Dec 03 - 11:30 AM

Well, yes, I suppose that here at Mudcat, "Query" is the universal language. Most links here query our database.
...just thought you ought to know...
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: Arnie
Date: 15 Dec 03 - 03:40 PM

Well, there goes my theory about Spanish! Still, never mind. Thanks all for the info - wonder if there's a 'Learn Mandarin in a Week' book I could borrow......


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 15 Dec 03 - 04:43 PM

Since China speaks many different languages, most not intelligible to each other, but writes only one, could Chinese be the most widely-written language?

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: GUEST,pdc
Date: 15 Dec 03 - 11:29 PM

I believe that Dave Oesterreich is correct -- all Chinese can read the same characters exactly, but often cannot speak to each other because of regional differences. If you add in the Japanese, who can also read Chinese characters, I think it would make Chinese the most widely-read language. Anyway, it's a good question!


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: An Pluiméir Ceolmhar
Date: 16 Dec 03 - 12:22 PM

I heard a speaker (think he was Dutch) open his speech to an international gathering by saying "I'm going to speak in the most widely-spoken language in the world: bad English!"


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: Mr Red
Date: 16 Dec 03 - 04:49 PM

Helen

Most widely spoken is probably like the mode or most representative sample in statistical blabbery. More countries, more governments, more prime ministers/presidents. What about when measured in people-dollars? I think English would edge-up a bit - biasing towards the movement of trade. AND what about on the net? There is a lot of English spoken (sic) here.

In air traffic controller & from pilots there are only two languages English and Russian - a legacy of the cold war and no international flights over Siberia in those days.


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Dec 03 - 05:09 PM

In principle, Chinese written language operates on the basis that an ideogram represents a thing or idea rather than the sound of a word. This means that people whose languages are very different can read and write in a way that is mutually comprehensible.

Is there any reason why this couldn't be done using English? So that, though I spoke English and you spoke some variety of Chinese, we would both understand the same written text.


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: GUEST,Donal
Date: 17 Dec 03 - 08:18 AM

As the saying goes, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. It is necessary to
   take any official Chinese statistics about the speaking of Mandarin with a great
   deal of salt, firstly because all governments lie when it suits them, and secondly,
   because in a totalitarian society respondents to official surveys tend to give the
   answers which they think the government wants. To illustrate, I have known people,
   mainly Cantonese speaking, from mainland China who have been through the school
   system, to the finish of high school at least, who could hardly speak Mandarin, their
   teachers and inspectors having been in collusion to hide the fact that they, the
   teachers, were incompetent to teach the language, and that the pupils had no
   interest in learning it. I have no direct evidence, but I suspect that the further one
   might go from Beijing, the more likely this situation is to occur. Having said that,
   i don't doubt that, fudged numbers aside, Mandarin is the language spoken more than
   any other. The written language question is tricky too, since the Communists
   'simplified' the characters, and older people and those who learn their characters
   in some overseas Chinese schools, find the new characters hard to read. This also
   applies to the Chinese characters which the Japanese use for some purposes, they
   are old style too.
                         Don.


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Dec 03 - 01:45 PM

Mind, you can say much the same about English.

The interesting thing would be which way improved communication technology is going to impact on English, if it continues in what at present seems its inexorable progress towards being the universal medium of communication.

On the one hand it could push us all towards standardisation - but on the hand there is the fact that the vastly greater proportion of people using the language will be non-native speakers, or in many cases non-speakers at all (as opposed to writers). This is inevitably going to change the language in all kinds of unpredicable ways.


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: Helen
Date: 17 Dec 03 - 03:32 PM

McGrath,

Years ago I saw a documentary series on tv here in Oz callled The Story of English, narrated by Robert McNeil, who used to do the McNeil-Lehrer Newshour, from Canada, I think. The series was one of the most interesting I have ever seen because it went around the world and looked at how English has changed in different countries or regions, and often it traced back which original dialect of English this had started from. From memory, people migrated to New England in the U.S. from the English midlands (I think) and that is reflected in their speech, pronunciation, vocabulary etc. Australian English owes a lot to Cockney English. But the ones which were even more interesting were the variants of English where it started out as a second language for the area and evolved, e.g. the Carribean region.

There was a book which I bought, but the tv show was even more interesting because of the opportunity to hear the similarities and differences in speech. Fascinating stuff!

Mr Red said: "the mode or most representative sample in statistical blabbery."

Cleverly put! Or should it be "rubbery blabbery"?

Helen


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Dec 03 - 03:47 PM

That explains why American actors trying to do Cockney accents end up sounding like bad attempts at Australian.


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Dec 03 - 03:52 PM

No, that's just because they are lousy at doing foreign accents. Hollywood Irish accents tend to be even worse.

There are exceptions, such as Gwynneth Paltrow and Renée Zellweiger. I can't think of any male equivalents.


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: s&r
Date: 17 Dec 03 - 05:43 PM

"Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" (a film from the sixties?) was set in Nottingham, but produced with Yorkshire accents. I was told that nobody understood the Nottingham accent.

Isn't music a universal language?


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: Mr Red
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 05:52 PM

McGrath of Harlow

Take three cold showers and eat sack cloth for a week

You want MALE equivalents of Gwynneth Paltrow and Renée Zellweiger?


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 06:53 PM

Male American actors who had the same ability to work at acquiring non-American accents? Yes. Or give the roles to actors who had that skill, or had the appropriate accents to start with.


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Subject: RE: BS: Query -Most widely-spoken language
From: Gareth
Date: 18 Dec 03 - 07:38 PM

Roumor has it that Oz or Strine is descended from Cockney, due to the transportations from London and the home counties.

"And we'll see you in Botany Bay"

How New South Wales came into it I will never understand !

Gareth


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