The Legacy of Empires
By Žikica Milošević
Europe is the home of some 150 native languages, and the majority of them descendants of the Indo-European branch spoken by 740 million inhabitants. But what languages are most spoken in the continent? Well, it has a lot to do with the legacy of mighty empires which spread their languages.
So, the most spoken language is Russian, with 120 million native speakers on the continent and many more who speak it as the second or the third language. It is followed by the language of philosophers and thinkers, German. It comes in second for the largest native-speaking population in Europe. It’s the sole official language of Germany, Austria and Liechtenstein, and it’s a co-official language in Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg, with 95m speakers.
After Russian and German, the next most spoken language in Europe is French, with about 80 million native speakers. It is the official language of France, as well as a co-official language of Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg. If you consider the percentage of the population that learned French as a second language, then over 30% of European inhabitants know the language.
400 million people around the world speak English, and 71 million of Europeans speak it as their first language, with 44% of the EU inhabitants claiming the knowledge of it.
The 5th is Turkish, official in Turkey and Cyprus, but spoken in N. Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia with 70m native speakers.
The following Top 10 languages are: (6) Italian – 69m, (7) Spanish – 45m, (8) Ukrainian – 44m, (9) Polish – 40m and (10) Romanian (also known as Moldavian) – 26m.