Summary by language family

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The genetic classifications given in the language entries name 136 different language families (that is, top-level genetic groups). Six of these, each of which has at least 5% of the world’s languages, stand out as the major language families of the world. Together they account for nearly two-thirds of all languages and five-sixths of the world’s population. Table 5 summarizes the distribution of languages and their populations within these six families. The columns are as for table 1, with the addition of a final column listing the countries under which the main entries for the languages of that family are found.

In addition to the other 130 language families, the genetic classification scheme also includes special categories for constructed languages, creoles, deaf sign languages, language isolates, mixed languages, pidgins, and unclassified languages. Table 6 summarizes the distribution of languages and their populations for these other language families and special categories. In most cases the population as a percentage of the world population is negligible; a figure is shown in that column only when the value is at least one-hundredth of one percent. Together tables 5 and 6 account for all known living languages of the world.

Table 5. Major language families of the world

Language familyLiving languagesNumber of speakersCountries
CountPer-
cent
TotalPer-
cent
MeanMedian
Afro-Asiatic   367 5.16 374,573,409 5.95 1,020,636 21,950 Algeria, Bahrain, Cameroon, Chad, Cyprus, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Libya, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Yemen
Austronesian   1,222 17.20 346,489,508 5.50 283,543 3,645 Brunei, Cambodia, Chile, China, Cook Islands, East Timor, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Indonesia, Kiribati, Madagascar, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Mayotte, Micronesia, Myanmar, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Suriname, Taiwan, Thailand, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, United States, Vanuatu, Viet Nam, Wallis and Futuna
Indo-European   437 6.15 2,925,253,210 46.46 6,693,943 139,000 Afghanistan, Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Isle of Man, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Vatican State, Venezuela
Niger-Congo   1,526 21.47 435,432,213 6.92 285,342 28,000 Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mayotte, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Sino-Tibetan   455 6.40 1,268,218,984 20.14 2,787,294 15,000 Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand, Viet Nam
Trans-New Guinea   476 6.70 3,540,024 0.06 7,437 1,500 East Timor, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea
Totals   4,483 63.09 5,353,507,348 85.03

Table 6. Other language families of the world

Language familyLiving languagesNumber of speakersCountries
Count   Per-
cent
Total Per-
cent
Mean Median
Algic   41 0.58 143,588 3,502 260 Canada, United States
Altaic   63 0.89 164,439,055 2.61 2,610,144 87,410 Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Georgia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Moldova, Mongolia, Russian Federation, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan
Amto-Musan   2 0.03 520 260 260 Papua New Guinea
Andamanese   4 0.06 501 125 122 India
Arafundi   3 0.04 1,960 653 400 Papua New Guinea
Arai (Left May)   6 0.08 2,005 334 340 Papua New Guinea
Arauan   5 0.07 5,870 1,174 740 Brazil
Australian   201 2.83 40,397 201 26 Australia
Austro-Asiatic   170 2.39 102,502,739 1.63 602,957 9,000 Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam
Aymaran   3 0.04 2,808,740 0.04 936,247 219,000 Bolivia, Peru
Barbacoan   3 0.04 24,800 8,267 9,500 Colombia, Ecuador
Bayono-Awbono   2 0.03 200 100 100 Indonesia
Border   15 0.21 17,080 1,139 410 Indonesia, Papua New Guinea
Bororoan   2 0.03 1,393 696 696 Brazil
Botocudoan   1 0.01 10 10 10 Brazil
Caddoan   5 0.07 46 9 10 United States
Cahuapanan   2 0.03 10,370 5,185 5,185 Peru
Cariban   29 0.41 67,376 2,323 600 Brazil, Colombia, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela
Central Solomons   4 0.06 14,810 3,702 2,145 Solomon Islands
Chapacuran   4 0.06 2,019 505 44 Bolivia, Brazil
Chibchan   20 0.28 306,397 15,320 2,900 Colombia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama
Chimakuan   1 0.01 0 0 0 United States
Chinookan   2 0.03 65 32 32 United States
Chipaya-Uru   2 0.03 1,202 601 601 Bolivia
Chocoan   7 0.10 113,300 16,186 5,510 Colombia, Panama
Chon   1 0.01 0 0 0 Argentina
Chukotko-Kamchatkan   5 0.07 6,875 1,375 80 Russian Federation
Chumashan   6 0.08 0 0 0 United States
Cochimí-Yuman   9 0.13 2,780 309 100 Mexico, United States
Constructed language   1 0.01 Unknown Poland
Coosan   1 0.01 0 0 0 United States
Creole   88 1.24 40,483,025 0.64 460,034 38,115 Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Cameroon, Cape Verde Islands, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Congo, Curacao, Democratic Republic of the Congo, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, French Guiana, Ghana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Macao, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, New Caledonia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norfolk Island, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Réunion, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, São Tomé e Príncipe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands, Uganda, United States, Vanuatu
Deaf sign language   135 1.90 6,751,316 0.11 50,010 8,000 Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chad, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Laos, Latvia, Libya, Lithuania, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Dravidian   84 1.18 229,294,360 3.64 2,729,695 26,000 India, Nepal, Pakistan
East Bird’s Head-Sentani   8 0.11 71,730 8,966 5,875 Indonesia
East Geelvink Bay   12 0.17 8,005 667 300 Indonesia
East New Britain   6 0.08 13,800 2,300 1,950 Papua New Guinea
Eastern Trans-Fly   4 0.06 6,760 1,690 1,525 Australia, Papua New Guinea
Eskimo-Aleut   10 0.14 110,310 11,031 1,910 Canada, Greenland, Russian Federation, United States
Eyak-Athabaskan   40 0.56 208,144 5,204 135 Canada, United States
Fas   2 0.03 2,840 1,420 1,420 Papua New Guinea
Guajiboan   5 0.07 38,700 7,740 1,000 Colombia
Guaykuruan   4 0.06 50,100 12,525 3,500 Argentina, Brazil
Haida   2 0.03 55 28 27 Canada
Harákmbut   2 0.03 810 405 405 Peru
Hmong-Mien   38 0.53 9,334,840 0.15 245,654 65,500 China, Laos, Viet Nam
Huavean   4 0.06 14,670 3,668 1,585 Mexico
Iroquoian   9 0.13 14,543 1,616 100 Canada, United States
Jabutian   2 0.03 3 2 1 Brazil
Japonic   12 0.17 123,067,790 1.95 10,255,649 5,000 Japan
Jean   13 0.18 44,335 3,410 1,535 Brazil
Jicaquean   1 0.01 350 350 350 Honduras
Jivaroan   4 0.06 89,630 22,408 22,165 Ecuador, Peru
Karajá   1 0.01 2,670 2,670 2,670 Brazil
Kartvelian   5 0.07 4,854,510 0.08 970,902 79,800 Georgia, Israel, Turkey
Katukinan   2 0.03 10 5 5 Brazil
Kaure   3 0.04 900 300 250 Indonesia
Kaweskaran   1 0.01 12 12 12 Chile
Keresan   2 0.03 10,670 5,335 5,335 United States
Khoisan   24 0.34 501,709 0.01 20,905 4,915 Angola, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania
Kiowa-Tanoan   5 0.07 6,360 1,272 1,500 United States
Kwomtari   3 0.04 1,510 503 600 Papua New Guinea
Lakes Plain   19 0.27 8,455 445 300 Indonesia
Language isolate   74 1.04 77,952,554 1.24 1,053,413 46 Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mali, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Russian Federation, South Korea, Spain, United States, Venezuela
Lencan   1 0.01 0 0 0 Honduras
Lower Mamberamo   2 0.03 800 400 400 Indonesia
Maiduan   3 0.04 4 1 1 United States
Maipurean   54 0.76 699,709 0.01 12,958 1,080 Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Guyana, Honduras, Peru, Puerto Rico, Suriname, Venezuela
Mairasi   3 0.04 4,385 1,462 1,000 Indonesia
Mapudungu   2 0.03 260,620 130,310 130,310 Chile
Mascoyan   6 0.08 20,728 3,455 2,980 Paraguay
Matacoan   7 0.10 60,280 8,611 2,150 Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay
Maxakalian   2 0.03 1,270 635 635 Brazil
Mayan   31 0.44 6,522,182 0.10 210,393 49,000 Belize, Guatemala, Mexico
Maybrat   2 0.03 25,000 12,500 12,500 Indonesia
Misumalpan   4 0.06 192,050 48,012 4,525 Nicaragua
Miwok-Costanoan   8 0.11 21 3 0 United States
Mixe-Zoquean   17 0.24 153,612 9,036 5,470 Mexico
Mixed language   21 0.30 613,005 0.01 29,191 2,000 Armenia, China, Ecuador, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Ireland, Micronesia, Niger, Norway, Russian Federation, Serbia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Tanzania, United Kingdom, United States
Mongol-Langam   3 0.04 1,970 657 420 Papua New Guinea
Mosetenan   1 0.01 5,320 5,320 5,320 Bolivia
Muran   1 0.01 360 360 360 Brazil
Muskogean   6 0.08 15,640 2,607 425 United States
Nambiquaran   6 0.08 1,068 178 10 Brazil
Nilo-Saharan   199 2.80 42,917,391 0.68 215,665 42,750 Algeria, Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda
Nimboran   5 0.07 8,500 1,700 2,000 Indonesia
North Bougainville   4 0.06 10,020 2,505 2,350 Papua New Guinea
North Caucasian   33 0.46 6,437,988 0.10 195,091 6,590 Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russian Federation
Otomanguean   176 2.48 1,686,374 0.03 9,582 4,060 Mexico, Nicaragua
Paezan   4 0.06 61,000 15,250 10,500 Colombia
Palaihnihan   2 0.03 10 5 5 United States
Panoan   21 0.30 37,424 1,782 453 Bolivia, Brazil, Peru
Pauwasi   5 0.07 3,710 742 230 Indonesia, Papua New Guinea
Piawi   2 0.03 2,600 1,300 1,300 Papua New Guinea
Pidgin   13 0.18 723 56 0 Australia, Canada, India, Indonesia, Liberia, Nauru, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Suriname, Zambia
Pomoan   6 0.08 48 8 1 United States
Puinavean   7 0.10 6,205 886 500 Brazil, Colombia
Quechuan   45 0.63 8,946,020 0.14 198,800 25,000 Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru
Ramu-Lower Sepik   32 0.45 65,830 2,057 1,080 Papua New Guinea
Sahaptian   5 0.07 225 45 25 United States
Salish   25 0.35 3,518 141 25 Canada, United States
Sálivan   3 0.04 18,630 6,210 2,500 Colombia, Venezuela
Senagi   2 0.03 2,960 1,480 1,480 Indonesia, Papua New Guinea
Sepik   55 0.77 162,704 2,958 625 Papua New Guinea
Siouan-Catawban   14 0.20 33,399 2,386 85 Canada, United States
Skou   8 0.11 5,665 708 640 Indonesia, Papua New Guinea
Somahai   2 0.03 2,200 1,100 1,100 Indonesia
South Bougainville   9 0.13 68,700 7,633 3,000 Papua New Guinea
South-Central Papuan   22 0.31 16,312 741 365 Indonesia, Papua New Guinea
Tacanan   5 0.07 4,590 918 730 Bolivia
Tai-Kadai   94 1.32 80,772,252 1.28 859,279 52,300 China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam
Tarascan   2 0.03 235,000 117,500 117,500 Mexico
Tequistlatecan   2 0.03 3,480 1,740 1,740 Mexico
Tiniguan   1 0.01 2 2 2 Colombia
Tor-Kwerba   24 0.34 16,195 675 400 Indonesia
Torricelli   57 0.80 113,705 1,995 750 Papua New Guinea
Totonacan   12 0.17 282,250 23,521 3,200 Mexico
Tsimshian   3 0.04 1,890 630 610 Canada
Tucanoan   23 0.32 30,308 1,318 642 Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru
Tupian   66 0.93 5,028,652 0.08 76,192 230 Bolivia, Brazil, French Guiana, Paraguay, Peru
Unclassified   52 0.73 373,789 7,188 30 Afghanistan, Australia, Brazil, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Colombia, Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Peru, South Africa, Spain, United Kingdom, Venezuela, Viet Nam
Uralic   37 0.52 20,549,869 0.33 555,402 3,000 Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Norway, Russian Federation, Sweden
Uto-Aztecan   57 0.80 1,910,412 0.03 33,516 5,410 El Salvador, Mexico, United States
Wakashan   6 0.08 1,188 198 130 Canada, United States
West Papuan   23 0.32 269,425 11,714 3,310 Indonesia
Wintuan   3 0.04 0 0 0 United States
Witotoan   7 0.10 17,478 2,497 194 Colombia, Peru
Yaguan   1 0.01 5,690 5,690 5,690 Peru
Yanomaman   4 0.06 31,670 7,918 5,535 Brazil, Venezuela
Yele-West New Britain   3 0.04 6,550 2,183 2,000 Papua New Guinea
Yeniseian   2 0.03 211 106 105 Russian Federation
Yokutsan   1 0.01 50 50 50 United States
Yuat   6 0.08 7,700 1,283 1,045 Papua New Guinea
Yukaghir   2 0.03 740 370 370 Russian Federation
Yukian   2 0.03 3 2 1 United States
Zamucoan   2 0.03 5,900 2,950 2,950 Paraguay
Zaparoan   3 0.04 90 30 35 Ecuador, Peru
Totals   2,623 36.91 942,204,843 14.97