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Let’s talk about a language that doesn’t use Yes or No

Around the world in 7139 languages – some with just a handful speakers

WORLD OF WORDS: Some countries, such as the United States, has no official national language. While Papua New Guinea is real multilingual with over 839 languages, as the world totally has 7139 active languages. At the same time, the world´s least spoken language only has seven speakers! Let´s move around the world in some few words.

Britain's Queen Elizabeth smiles as she attends a dinner.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth smiles as she attends a dinner.


Words don´t come easy

Speaking a second or even a third language is certainly advantages, but occasionally the words, accents and even grammar can make you confused. Recently I came across a story about Nepal´s Kusunda language, spoken by only one in the hills of Teral.

If you meet young student Hima in this lowland Nepal, you will realise that words don´t always come easy. In fact, Hima is one of the last remaining Kusunda. Her language has no words for “yes” or “no” – and few words implying anything negative. For the Kusunda people, losing their language means losing a link to their past, and to their identity.

A break in Argentina where they speak Spanish.
A break in Argentina where they speak Spanish.

Languages of the world

Now in 2022, there are 7139 active languages in the world. Not all has recognised an official language, just 178 countries, and 101 of them recognising more than one. Not long ago, in 1999, Italy made Italian official. Bolivia has the highest number of official languages, 37 different at a national level. Countries like the US, Australia, Eritrea, Mexico, Luxembourg, Sweden and Tuvalu have never declared official languages at the national level.
South Africa has 11 official language – and soon 12. Such status means legal status, and used within the government.

World´s most spoken

The most spoken languages in the World are English, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, Hindi/Urdu and then Arabic.
Mandarin Chinese is assumed the hardest language to learn, while Italian with its melodic rhythm is the most attractive language.

Mother tongue is the first language learned at home in childhood. Ethnologue, a catalogue of world´s known languages, has ranked countries and territories based on the number of languages spoken as a first language. On top is Papua New Guinea the most multilingual country with over 839 languages.

India recognize 22 official languages, such as Bengali, Hindi, Maithili, Nepalese, Sanskrit and Tamil. However, between 1961 and 1971, thousands of languages vanished from Indian census data.

Least popular letter

As you can probably guess, the letter Z is the least commonly used letter in the English alphabet. The letter Q is the second least commonly used letter. In English words, Q is almost always followed by the letter U.

Jesus spoke dialect

With certainly, we assume that the historical Jesus spoke a Galilean dialect of Aramaic. While the universities across the world consider Sanskrit as the world´s oldest language.
Chalcatongo Mixtex is voted the weirdest language, spoken by a total of 6.000 people in Oaxaca, Mexico. The weirdest compared to other languages spoken in the world.

People of Nepal have their own local language
People of Nepal have their own local language

Only seven left

Current records reveal only 7 remaining speakers of the Dumi language in Khotang district, eastern Nepal. A dictionary and books showing the grammar are available – for those interested to learn the world´s least spoken language.
However, remember four famous words from the French singer F.R. David and his hit from 1982: “Worlds don´t come easy”.

Q & A about world languages

How many languages does Boris Johnson speak?
Boris speaks English and learnt to speak French when he in 1973 attended the European School in Brussels.

Boris Johnson went to French school in Belgium
Boris Johnson went to French school in Belgium

What languages do they speak in Greece?
Greek is the official language. The other are Macedonian, or Slav-Macedonian, Albanian and Turkish.

What languages do they speak in Turkey?
Turkish is the most widely spoken, then Northern Kurdish and Arabic.

What languages do they speak in Iran?
In central part they speak Persian. But Iran has 86 languages.

The Queen speaks French

How many languages does Queen Elizabeth speak?
The Queen can speak both English and French. Her English may be impeccable, or just Posh, if you prefer.

What languages are spoken in Kenya?
English and Swahili. But Kenya is a multilingual country, between 60 and 70 languages spoken.

What language is spoken in Taiwan?
Since 1945, Mandarin Chinese has been the official language of Taiwan. Not much changed from the mainland China.

Indonesia has 700 languages

What languages are spoken in Indonesia?
The official is Indonesian, but also regional such as Javanese, Sundanese, Minangkabau and English. More than 700 local languages are spoken in Indonesia.

What language is spoken in Romania?
Romanian is spoken primarily in Romania and Moldovia, and is close to Italian.

What languages are spoken in South America?
Nearly 210 million South Americans speak Spanish. In Brazil they speak Portuguese.

What languages are spoken in France?
Mostly French, but 24% of population also speak English.

What languages are spoken in Algeria?
The official is Arabic and Tamazight, or Berber, the native languages of Algeria.

He speaks 58 languages

Who can speak the most languages?
Ziad Fazah holds the Guinness book of Record. He is able to speak and read 58 languages. Born in Liberia, brought up in Beirut, Ziad is now living in Brazil.

How many languages in Pakistan?
Urdu is the national language, English is the other official. In addition, there are between 70 and 80 languages spoken in Pakistan.

What languages are spoken in Poland?
Polish is the first language, representing 97% of the population. You can survive by speaking English in Poland.

Pope Francis speaks many languages, bot not English.
Pope Francis speaks many languages, bot not English.

Pope don´t speak English

What languages does the Pope speak?
The Argentinian born pope speaks Spanish, Italian, German, French and Portuguese. But not English.

How to say Hi in different languages?
Try these: Hola, Bonjour, Guten tag, Salve, Nin hao in Chinese, Olà in Portuguese, Asalaam alaikum in Arabic and Konnichiwa in Japanese.

How to say “Merry Christmas” in different languages?
Feliz Navidad in Spanish, Joyeux Noêl in French, Frohe Weihnachten in German, Buon Natale in Italian, Feliz Natal in Portuguese, Craciun Fericit in Romanian, Hyvää Joulua in Finland, and God Jul in Swedish, Norwegian and Danish.


Gudmund Lindbaek
Gudmund Lindbaek
Journalist founded King Goya online travel magazine. Meeting people for engaging stories. I´m off to uncover the best strategies for long life living. This is part of my venture “Around the World in 80 Lanes” – about travel, run sprint, staying fit! I just want a tiny slice of adventures to feel alive, and then excited to return home.


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