There are between 6,000 and 7,000 languages currently spoken in the world. Ethnologue lists 7,097 language, of which 3,947 have fewer than 10,000 speakers. By end of the 21st century it is thought that between 50-90% of all languages will be extinct.
Languages are grouped into 135 families consisting of languges that are known or thought to be related. For example French, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian and other Romance languages all developed from Latin, and form one branch of the Indo-European language family.
This is a list of the languages featured on Omniglot arranged by the language families they belong to, with details of each language family.
The Afroasiatic language family includes around 375 languages which are spoken by over 350 million people in the Middle East, North Africa and parts of the Sahel. These languages are also known as Afro-Asiatic, Afrasian or Hamito-Semitic / Chamito-Semitic.
More information about the Afroasiatic languages
There are about 30 Algonquian languages spoken by between 90,000 and 130,000 people in southern Canada and northern parts of the USA. They are also known as Algic or Algonkian languages.
More information about the Algonquian languages
The Altaic language family is a proposed grouping of some 65 languages spoken by about 250 million people in northeast Asia, central Asia, Anatolia and eastern Europe.
More information about Altaic languages
There are 59 Arawakan languages spoken by about 500,000 people in parts of South and Central America and on Caribbean islands. They are also known as Arahuacan, Maipuran or Maipurean languages.
More information about Arawakan languages
The 169 Austroasiatic languages are spoken by about 80 million people in Southeast Asia, India, Bangladesh and southern parts of China.
More information about Austroasiatic languages
There are 264 Aboriginal languages in Australia classified as belonging to 27 different languages families, and also a number of language isolates. They are spoken by a total of around 50,000 people.
More information about Australian Aboriginal languages
The 1,257 Austronesian languages are spoken by about 300 million people in the islands of Southeast Asia and the Pacific, and in Madagascar. Some of them are also spoken on the Southeast Asian mainland. They are thought to originate in Taiwan.
More information about the Austronesian languages
The Aymaran is a small family of languages spoken in central parts of the Andes mainly in Bolivia, and also in Peru, Chile and Argentina. There are some 2.5 million speakers of these languages, almost all of whom speak Aymara.
The Barbacoan languages are spoken by about 248,000 people in northern Ecador and southern Columbia.
The Caddoan languages are spoken on the Great Plains of the USA from North Dakota to Oklahoma. Four Caddoan languages are still spoken, though only by a small number of elderly people.
More information about the Cariban languages
The Cariban languages are spoken in parts of Venezuela, Colombia, Suriname, Guyana and Brazil. Most only have a hundred speakers, but one, Macushi, is spoken by 30,000 people.
There are just two Cahuapanan languages, Chayahuita and Jebero, which are spoken about 10,400 people in Peru.
The languages of the Caucasus region are grouped into three families, which are not related to one another: Northeast, Northwest and South Caucasian. The Northeast Caucasian languages are spoken by about 3.8 million people in the Russian republics of Dagestan and Chechnya, the disputed region of Ingushetia, and in northern Azerbaijan and northeastern Georgia. The Northwest Caucasian languages have about 2.5 million speakers in Adygea, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia, and Abkhazia in the Russian Federation, and also in Turkey. The South Caucasian or Kartvelian languages have some 5.2 million speakers in Georgia and neighbouring parts of Russia.
More information about the Caucasian languages
The Chibchan languages are spoken in parts of Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.
The 85 Dravidian languages are spoken by around 215 million people mainly in southern India and parts of eastern and central India, and also in northeastern Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh.
More information about Dravidian languages
There are eleven Eskimo-Aleut languges spoken in Greenland, northern Canada, northern Alaska, and on the Chukchi Peninsula in eastern Siberia by about 77,415 people. They are also known as Eskaleutian, Eskaleutic, or Inuit-Yupik-Unangan.
More information about Eskimo-Aleut languages
There are five Guaicuruan languages spoken by about 48,590 people in northern Argentina, western Paraguay, and in Mato Grosso do Sul in Brazil. They are also known as Guaykuruan, Waikurúan, Guaycuruano, Guaikurú, Guaicurú, or Guaycuruana languages.
The Hmong-Mien, or Miao-Yao, language family consists of 38 languages spoken by about 7-10 million people in southern China, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Burma.
More information about Hmong-Mien languages
The 445 or so Indo-European languages have about 3 billion native speakers and many more second and foreign language speakers. They are are spoken in most of Europe, parts of the Middle East, South and Central Asia, the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, and many parts of Africa.
More information about Indo-European languages
There are seven Iroquoian languages in parts of the eastern and northeastern USA and southeastern Canada by about 386,000 people.
More information about Iroquoian languages
The Japonic or Japanese-Ryukyuan languages are spoken in J apan by about 122 million people. There are 12 of them, the largest of which is Japanese.
There are four Jivaroan languages spoken by about 85,630 in northern Peru and eastern Ecuador. It is also known as Hívaro, Jívaro, Jibaroana, or Jibaro.
The Khoisan languages are spoken in Tanzania, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Angola, Botswana, and Zambia by about 346,000 people.
More information about Khoisan languages
The Kadu / Kadugli–Krongo languages are spoken in central Sudan by about 75,000 people. There are about 30 of them.
More information about Khoisan languages
There 31 Mayan languages spoken by over 7 million people mainly in southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras, and also in El Salvador.
More information about Mayan languages
The Misumalpan language family consists of three languages spoken by about 192,000 people on the east coast of Nicaragua and neighbouring areas. They are also known as Misumalpa or Misuluan languages.
There are six Muskogean languages spoken by about 17,000 people in parts of Oklahoma, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Texas and Tennessee in the USA.
The Na-Dené grouping of languages includes the Athabaskan languages, Eyak and Tlingit languages, and possibly the Yeniseian languages of Siberia. These languages are spoken by about 180,000 people in Alsaka, northwestern Canada, southwestern parts of the USA, and in central Siberia. This grouping is somewhat controversial, and is also known as Nadene, Na-Dené, Athabaskan-Eyak-Tlingit or Tlina-Den.
More information about Na-Dené languages
With some 1,400 members, the Niger-Congo language family is the largest in the world. They are spoken in most of sub-Saharan Africa by around 600 million people.
More information about Niger-Congo languages
The Nilo-Saharan language family consists of around 200 languages which are spoken in central and east Africa by about 50 million people, particularly along the River Nile and in central parts of the Sahara.
More information about Nilo-Saharan languages
The Oto-Manguean languages are spoken by about 2 million people in central Mexico in the states of Oaxaca, Mexico, Hidalgo, Querétaro. They were formerly spoken in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Costa Rica.
More information about Oto-Manguean languages
There are about 20 Panoan languages spoken by about 40,000 people in parts of Peru, western Brazil and Bolivia.
More information about Panoan languages
There are just four Papuan languages, which are also known as Central Solomon languages, and they are spoken in the Solomon Islands on Vella Lavella, Ghizo, Rendova, Russell and Savo islands.
The seven Pomoan or Pomo languages are spoken in northern Californian in the USA by about 50 or 60 people.
The Peba-Yaguan languages were spoken in northwestern parts of the Amazon. The only surviving member of this language family is Yagua, which is spoken in northeastern Peru. The other members, Peba and Yameo, are extinct.
More information about Panoan languages
The Quechuan language family consists of 46 languages spoken by about 8-10 million people mainly in Peru, Ecuador and Boliva, and also in Argentina and Colombia. The Quechuan languages are the most widely-spoken indigenous languages in South America.
The Salishan languages are spoken in the Canadian province of British Columbia, and in the US states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. There are 23 Salishan languages, and many dialects and sub-dialects, and all are endangered. Few are spoken by more than a thousand people, and most have only a small number of elderly speakers.
More information about the Salishan languages
There are over 400 Sino-Tibetan languages spoken by over a billion people in East Asia, Southeast Asia and parts of South Asia.
More information about Sino-Tibetan languages
There are 14 Siouan languages spoken mainly in central parts of the USA and Canada by about 20,000 people. This language family is also known as Siouan-Catawban.
More information about the Siouan languages
The Tai-Kaidai languages includes 95 languages spoken in southern China and Southeast Asia by about 85 million people. This language family is also known as Daic, Kadai, Kradai or Kra-Dai.
More information about the Tai-Kaidai languages
The Trans-New Guinean languages are an extensive family spoken in New Guinea and neighboring islands. The core of the family is considered to be established, but its boundaries and overall membership are uncertain.
More information about the Trans-New Guinean languages
Tucanoan languages are spoken by about 30,000 people in parts of southern and central Colombia, northwestern Brazil, northeastern Ecuador and northeastern Peru.
More information about the Tucanoan languages
The Tupi-Guarani language family consists of 50 or so languages spoken by about 10 million people in parts of Brazil, Bolivia, French Guiana, Paraguay and Peru. It is a branch of the larger Tupian language family, which includes another 20 languages.
More information about the Tupi-Guarani languages
There are 38 Uralic languages spoken in Finland, Estonian, Hungary, Russia, Norway and Sweden by about 25 million people. This family is named after the Ural mountains, which is thought to be where they originated. This language family is also known as Finno-Ugric, which generally excludes the Samoyedic languages.
The Uto-Aztecan languages are spoken mainly in western parts of the USA and in Mexico, and also in El Salvador. There are 61 members of this language family spoken by about 1.9 million people.
More information about the Uto-Aztecan languages
The Wakashan languages are spoken in British Columbia and on Vancouver Island in Canada, and on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state in the USA. There are seven languages in this family with about 1,000 speakers.
There is just one Yenisei language spoken by just about 200 people along the Yenisei river in central Siberia in the Russian Federation. The only other Yeniseian language to survive into the 20th century was Yug(h), which became extinct in 1990.
The Yuman-Cochimí languages are spoken in Baja California and northern Sonora in Mexico, and in southern California and western Arizonia in the USA. There are 12 Yuman-Cochimí languages currently spoken. All are endangered.
More information about the Yuman-Cochimí languages
The five Zaparoan languages have fewer than 100 speakers and are spoken in parts of Peru and Ecuador.
Languages isolates are languages with no known connection to any other languages. Some languages are isolates because all their relatives are extinct, others, such as Basque, have been isolates for all their documented existence.
More information about the language isolates
Creole languages develop from contact languages or pidgins when they are learned by children as native languages. Pidgins emerge in situations where people who do not share a common language need to communicate.
More information about the Creole languages
International Auxiliary Languages are used as second languages for communication between people from different countries without a common languages. They are also known as IALs, auxlangs or interlanguages, and this name often refers to planned or constructed languages.
More information about the international auxiliary languages