The many languages of Europe


It’s easy to forget our trans-Atlantic cousins in Europe speak a huge variety of languages throughout the 50 countries that make up the continent. Given the prevalence of English, it being Europe’s (and the rest of the world’s) lingua franca, it would also be easy to assume that English makes up the largest part of this multitude of different languages.

However, the truth is a little different. Blogger Russian Sphinx is something of a dataphile – her blog features a wide variety of charts, maps and graphs of a wide variety of interesting sources of data. One of her posts maps the languages of native speakers of Europe by number of speakers, and the results speak for themselves. English finishes noticeably behind Russian, German and French. Click the image below to see the full version.

However, thinking in terms of native speakers, this result may not be as surprising as English-centric north Americans would think – the only countries in Europe with English as their official first language are the UK, Ireland and Malta. Therefore, even though English may be the most popular second language by far in Europe, it has a way to go before it becomes the most-spoken native tongue.