For those who work in translation business it is always been important to keep track of which languages are gaining importance in terms of their number of speakers and their use in business. However just because languages have a high number of native speakers does not necessarily translate into them being important on a business level. On the other hand, languages whose speakers die out will consequently lose importance in an international context too. We thought it would be interesting to look at the most spoken languages in the World compared with an analysis of the languages that we most often translate to and from.
There is no doubt that Mandarin Chinese with 1.3 billion speakers is the most spoken language in the world making it also an essential business language. It is also the second most used language on the internet and an official language for the UN.
Mandarin is followed by the Indian languages Hindi and Urdu (approx. 970 million speakers); Spanish as spoken in Spain and Latin America (approx. 330 million speakers as a first language, and 500 million in total); and finally by English (approx. 380 million speakers as a first language). After these, the most spoken languages are Arabic, Portuguese, Bengali, Russian, Japanese and Punjabi.
Nearly half of the world’s population (3 billion) speaks one of these languages.
English is important and being set in an English speaking country therefore means a great advantage. Second language learning of English is increasing steadily – if you add up mother tongue and second language speaker’s, 1.8 billion people speak English making it the most widely spoken language in the world and also the language most frequently used on the Internet.
As for the other European languages, the European economic relationships play a key role. European countries tend to do a lot of business with their European neighbours and therefore the languages of these neighbour countries are important translation languages. Furthermore, the European Union has set French, German and English as working languages which brings about a high number of translation needed into and out of French and German.
… and in Ireland
Due to immigration over the past decades Eastern European languages have gained importance in Ireland and a lot of translation work is being carried out for languages such as Polish, Lithuanian, Russian, Chinese and Arabic. Government Language policies have also led to a boom in Irish translation.
So what are the most requested languages in our business?
We have compiled DCU LS translation and interpreting data for 2012 to date (January-October) and we hope you will find this interesting.
It shows that for Translation Services, Irish, French, German and Spanish have made up the majority of translation requests, with other languages such as Russian, Chinese, Polish, Portuguese following. The other languages (7%) are made up of other Eastern European languages, Scandanvian languages and Asian and Indic languages.
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