Languages are grouped into 135 families consisting of languages that are known or thought to be related. For example, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and other Romance languages all developed from Latin, and form one branch of the Indo-European language family. Languages with no relatives are known as language isolates.
There are 7,111 languages currently spoken, according to Ethnologue. Other sources give different totals. Over half of these languages have fewer than 10,000 speakers.
This is a list of the languages featured on Omniglot arranged by the language families they belong to, with details of each language family.
Writing systems (A-Z) | Writing systems (by direction) | Writing systems (by language) | What is writing? | Types of writing system | Differences between writing and speech | Language and Writing Statistics | Languages (A-Z) | Languages (by family) | Languages (native names) | Constructed scripts
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
The Algonquian languages are 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
Examples of spoken Algonquian languages
The Araucanian languages are, and were, spoken in central Chile and neighbouring parts of Argentina. Only two of these languages are still spoken: Mapuche and Huilliche, which are also classified as Mapudungu languages.
More information about Araucanian 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 belonging to 27 different languages families, although the majority belong to the Pama-Nyungan family. There are 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
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 Chocoan languages are spoken in Colombia and Panama. There are two main Choco languages: Emberá and Wounaan with about 60,000 speakers. Emberá is in fact a group of six mutually intelligible dialects that are classified as languages in some sources. This family is also known as Choco, Chocó or Chokó.
The Chonan or Chon languages are spoken in Patagonia in southern Argentina. Two Chonan languages are currently spoken by a handful of people.
The Chibchan languages are spoken in parts of Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.
The Chukotko-Kamchatkan or Chukchi–Kamchatkan languages are spoken in the northeast of Siberia in Russia. There are just five languages in this family: one in the Northern or Kamchatkan branch - Itelmen - and four in the Southern or Chukotko branch.
More information about Chukotko-Kamchatkan languages
The Chumashan languages were spoken along the southern coast of California in the USA, between San Luis Obispo and Malibu, in the Transverse Ranges valleys, and on San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz islands. The last native speak of a Chumashan language died in 1965, however since then efforts have been made to revive the languages.
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
The Great Andamnese languages were spoken in the Andaman Islands, part of the Indian Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. There were ten of these languages, but no native speakers remain. A few people have learnt Aka-Jeru as a second language.
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 Japan 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 Kadu / Kadugli-Krongo languages are spoken in central Sudan by about 75,000 people. There are about 30 of them.
More information about Kadu languages
The Khoe languages are spoken in Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. There are just eight languages in this family.
The Koreanic language family consists of Korean, and Jeju, which is considered a separate language by some, or a dialect of Korean by others. There are other dialects of Korean in North Korea and South Korea, and in Japan, China and Central Asian countries.
The Kx'a or Ju–ǂHoan language family consist of a few languages spoken in Angola, Namibia and Botswana. Before 2010 they were classified as Khoisan languages.
The Maiduan languages were spoken in central California in the USA until the late 20th or early 21st century. Efforts are being made to revive one of them Northwest Maidu / Konkow.
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.
The Mongolic language family has eleven members which are spoken by about 6.5 million people, mainly in Mongolia. There are also speakers of Mongolic languages in northern China, in Buryatia and Kalmykia in Russia, and in Herat in Afghanistan.
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 Alaska, 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 Ongan languages are spoken in the southern Andaman Islands, a part of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a Union territory of India. There are currently two known Ongan languages with about 300 speakers between them. The language spoken on North Sentinel Island, Sentinelese, is possibly related, however as no outsiders can visit the island, it is not certain. Another possible Ongan language, Jangil, was spoken on Rutland Island in the southern Andaman Islands until the late 19th or early 20th century.
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 Plateau Penutian languages are Native American languages spoken in northern California, central Oregon, northern Washington and central Idaho. There are four languages in this family, although one of them, Molala, has not been spoken since the 1950s.
More information about Plateau Penutian languages
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.
An example of spoken Quechua
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
Examples of Sinitic 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
Sample of spoken Lakota Sioux
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 Tanoan language family consists of just six languages that are spoken mainly in the pueblos of New Mexico, and also in Arizona. The family is also known as Kiowa-Tanoan or Tanoan-Kiowa, and has about 7,250 speakers all together.
More information about the Tanoan languages
Timor-Alor-Pantar languages are spoken in southern Indonesia in Timor, Kisar and the Alor archipelago. There are about 20 languages in this family.
More information about the Timor-Alor-Pantar languages
Totonacan languages are spoken in the states of Veracruz, Puebla and Hidalgo in central Mexico. There are 12 Totonac languages which are spoken by about 290,000 people.
More information about the Tucanoan languages
The four Tsimshianic languages are spoken in northwestern British Columbia in Canada and in Southeast Alaska on Annette Island and Ketchikan in the USA. About 2,170 people speak these languages.
More information about Tsimshianic 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 Tungusic or Manchu-Tungus language family includes 11 languages spoken by about 75,000 people in Eastern Siberia and northeast China.
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
The Turkic language family consists of 41 languages spoken by about 170 million people in parts of eastern Europe, and in West, Central, North and East Asia.
Altay, Äynu, Azerbaijani, Bashkir, Chagatai, Chelkan, Chuvash, Crimean Tatar, Dolgan, Fuyu Kyrgyz, Gagauz, Karachay-Balkar, Karaim, Karakalpak, Kazakh, Khakas, Khorasani Turkic, Krymchak, Kyrgyz, Nogai, Old Turkic, Qashqai, Salar, Shor, Soyot, Tatar, Teleut, Tofa, Turkish, Turkmen, Tuvan, Urum, Uyghur, Uzbek, Yakut
The Tuu languages are spoken in South Africa and Botswana. Four of these languages are currently spoken by about 2,500 people.
More information about Tuu 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.
Hear spoken examples of the Uralic 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
Hear spoken and sung samples of 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 eight languages in this family with about 1,000 speakers.
The Wintuan languages is a small family of four languages that were spoken in the Sacramento Valley in northern California in the USA. There are no native speakers of these languages, except perhaps Patwin, however efforts are being made to revitalize them.
More information about the Wintuan languages
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.
Sample of spoken Ket
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
Yok-Utian, or Hotian, is a proposed language family consisting of the Yokutsan and Utian languages, which are spoken in parts of California. There are only a small number of languages in this family, and all are endangered.
More information about the Yok-Utian 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
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