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The most commonly used language in the world is Mandarin. Over one billion people speak Mandarin as their mother tongue.

The next most common languages are:

  • English 500 million
  • Hindustani 497 million
  • Spanish 390 million
  • Russian 280 million
  • Arabic 250 million
  • Bengali 210 million
  • Portugese 190 million
  • Malay-Indonesian 160 million

These are the most important languages in terms of total population, but the world has 191 countries and over 6800 languages. Many of those languages are limited to very small geographic areas or small ethnic populations, but they’re all fully evolved, complex, culturally rich linguistic systems.

Important languages in business and for Internet service providers

The languages that are important in international business, as an Internet service provider, depend largely on the specific business you are in, the service you provide, and where you are focusing your marketing efforts. In general, we can say that the following languages are key for most international service providers:

  • English
  • German
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Spanish

What makes a language important to business? It’s partly a matter of target population, and it’s partly the affluence of each population and their willingness to do business outside their local communities or nations.

Important languages in science and technology

The languages that are important in the fields of science and technology are arguably the following:

  • English
  • German
  • Russian
  • Spanish

What makes a language important to science and technology? It’s primarily the amount of science being done in a given linguistic group, and partly the accessibility of that language to the larger scientific and technical community (either through multi-lingualism or through machine-mediated translation).