Language is something that we use every single day, not only in the traditional spoken word form but also body language, written language and many other forms. Whilst some of us can speak only our mother tongue, others can speak a second, and even multiple, languages!  Some can use sign language, whilst others recognise the language of animals such as bird calls. Language is all around us.

Here are a few amazing facts and statistics that you might not know about language, some of which might surprise you…

Language in figures

  • There are over 7,000 different forms of language in the world.
  • Chinese has around 50,000 different characters that make up their written language. To even read the newspaper in China, you must know at least 2,000 characters.
  • 25% of the world’s population has some knowledge of English.

language extinction

 Language extinction

  • There are approximately 231 languages that will never be heard again. This includes Alderney French and Togoyo.
  • One language dies every fortnight.

language facts

Fictional languages

  • Esperanto is a fully developed artificial language.  It has between half to two million speakers.
  • Klingon (from the television series and movies ‘Star Trek’) is a working language developed by a linguistics teacher from the University of California.
  • There were twelve languages created for the novels ‘Lord of the Rings’, with two being developed enough to speak in conversation.


Language in translation

  • The world’s most translated document is not the Bible, but rather the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. It has been translated into around 300 languages.
  • The United Nations has six official languages;  Chinese, Arabic, French, Russian, Spanish and English.
  • The book available in most languages around the world is Pinocchio.
  • The world’s most translated author is Agatha Christie, with over 7200 combinations of languages and books.

Language facts

Language around the world

  • Patagonian Welsh is a variety of the Welsh language spoken in Patagonia due to Welsh settlers moving to Patagonia in 1865.
  • Frisian, native to a part of the Netherlands, is considered the easiest foreign language for native English speakers to learn.
  • Russian and English are both the languages of space. Astronauts have to learn Russian in order to operate the controls on the International Space Station. 

language learning

And finally…

  • The term ‘Polyglot’ is used for a person who can speak or write in several languages.
  • Some people are ‘perfect bilinguals’ as they can speak two languages equally well. This is quite uncommon though as most people are usually more advanced in one language, even if this is only a little bit!
  • Amazingly, the United States of America has no official language.
  • The Cash Machines found in Vatican City can be displayed in Latin.
  • The date of the oldest written language is believed to be Chinese found on pottery dating back to 4500 BC.

Do you know any other facts about languages or translation? Share them with us in the comments below! 

For other language-related content take a look at our other blogs below: 

10 facts about the German language

10 facts about the French language

10 facts about the Italian language