Not all continents are equally diverse in the number of spoken languages, a US newspaper reported on Sunday, adding that whereas Asia leads the statistics with 2,301 languages, Africa follows closely with 2,138.
The Washington Post noted that there are about 1,300 languages in the Pacific, and 1,064 in South and North America. Europe, despite its many nation-states, is at the bottom of the pack with just 286.
Chinese has more native speakers than any other language, followed by Hindi and Urdu, which have the same linguistic origins in northern India. English comes next with 527 million native speakers. Arabic is used by nearly 100 million more native speakers than Spanish.
The numbers are fascinating because they reflect the fact that two-thirds of the world's population share only 12 native languages. Those numbers were recently published by the University of Düsseldorf's Ulrich Ammon, who conducted a 15-year-long study.