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Top 12 Languages Spoken in Asia

Which languages have the most native speakers in Asia?
According to this source with continental adjustments made
Chinese and Hindustani dialects have to be guessed separately
Quiz by relessness
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Last updated: November 14, 2018
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First submittedJanuary 7, 2017
Times taken27,348
Average score58.3%
Rating4.31
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Native Speakers
Language
950 mil
Mandarin
305 mil
Hindi
200 mil
Bengali
125 mil
Japanese
100 mil
Arabic
98 mil
Javanese
Native Speakers
Language
95 mil
Punjabi
80 mil
Wu (Shanghainese)
77 mil
Malay/Indonesian
76 mil
Telugu
76 mil
Vietnamese
76 mil
Korean
46 Comments
+25
Level 89
Jan 11, 2017
Interesting quiz. I was very surprised Cantonese didn't make the list. I was also surprised at some others that didn't make the cut, such as Persian, Tagalog, and Tamil.
+12
Level 83
Jan 11, 2017
Political or cultural significance of a language doesn't always correspond to the number of speakers. Only a bit over half of Irani population are Persian native speakers, a quarter of Filipinos are Tagalog and Cantonese is only the prestige dialect of its group.
+4
Level 60
Apr 6, 2017
Yes, I agree Cantonese was a surprise indeed.
+3
Level 62
Nov 7, 2017
Cultural links don't always mean the language is widely spoken. As Djilas mentioned before, Persian and Tagalog aren't that widely spoken. Same goes for other continents too. Here in Ireland, you'd struggle to find anyone incapable of understanding English bar immigrants.
+1
Level 65
Dec 30, 2022
There are explanations for the others so my guess is Tamil is well known for having a long history and being a very conservative Dravidian language, so it is often used as a representative of Dravidian languages since it is not as big of a language family as Indo-European or Sino-Tibetan but one of the most spoken still. Because of this it's also talked about more by both non-native speakers and native speakers. It's also official in 2 countries so people learning official languages might think of it.
+2
Level 63
Jan 14, 2017
Ironically, the photo of the banner at the top is of a dynasty who's original language (Manchu) is nearly extinct.
+2
Level 69
Apr 6, 2017
Manchu won't become extinct. It doesn't have a lot of native speakers but approximately 15 million people speak the language.
+3
Level 67
Apr 6, 2017
15 million? I think there are fewer 15 elderly people remaining in a remote village near Qiqihar who can still speak Manchurian. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manchu_language
+3
Level 56
Apr 6, 2017
It turns out that out of 10 million Manchus only about 10 still speak the Manchu language natively.
+1
Level 63
Apr 11, 2017
Manchu was almost a dead language by the end of the Qing dynasty in the early 1900's (which began using manchu, and became extremely sinicized over the next several centuries to the point that almost no court officials could speak it), to say nothing of a hundred years after it's end today. Like the below commenters said, native Manchu speakers are almost gone today and fluent speakers be it first or second/third/etc. language are rare. Almost all ethnic Manchu speak Mandarin Chinese as a first language.
+1
Level 20
Jul 3, 2019
It might be owned by the Manchus for a while, but it's built in Ming dynasty by Han chinese.
+1
Level 51
Jan 18, 2024
But you misunderstood. This building called Tiantan. It was built in the Ming Dynasty, which is still a dynasty established by the Han Chinese people
+1
Level 71
Jan 22, 2017
Is Bengal acceptable for Bengali?
+6
Level 66
Feb 8, 2017
I tried Punjab for Punjabi but I think Bengal and Punjab are regions, not languages.
+2
Level 83
Apr 6, 2017
Bengali is the adjective, or name for the language. Bangla works as well.
+2
Level 61
Apr 6, 2017
Tried Nihongo but didn't work and stopped trying. Found out after the quiz that it's included as Japanese.
+11
Level 58
Apr 6, 2017
Erm, that's because the name for the language in English is Japanese
+13
Level 56
Apr 17, 2017
Even Japanese people wouldn't type "Nihongo" on this quiz.
+4
Level 57
Mar 14, 2019
Don't be ridiculous. If you really thought that it would be listed in japanese rather than english, then you would have tried "日本語", not "nihongo"
+1
Level 57
Apr 6, 2017
WU

spoken by 90 mil.

+2
Level 65
Sep 5, 2019
I lived in Shanghai for a year and only heard someone speaking Wu once.

Don't know about the source but 90M seems way over head to me.

+1
Level 51
Jan 18, 2024
Shanghai dialect belongs to Wu, but in addition to Shanghai, Wu is also spoken in southern Jiangsu Province, almost the entire Zhejiang Province, northeastern Jiangxi Province, southeastern Anhui Province, and the northernmost part of Fujian Province. The total population of these places must be over 80 million
+1
Level 43
May 3, 2024
I might be misremembering it, but I remember seeing a joke about how you hear Shanghainese in the countryside around Shanghai, Mandarin in the suburbs, and English in the city. I can't attest how accurate it is but I thought it was funny.
+1
Level 76
Apr 10, 2017
0:50! ..Second time. First time around I missed half, and kept trying cantonese
+2
Level 74
May 2, 2017
shouldn't russian be on here? There's a lot of Central Asian countries where it's common as a second language, aside from Russia. at least give me a source somewhere with accurate information.
+3
Level 47
May 2, 2017
... native speakers.
+5
Level 47
May 17, 2017
According to the source there are 160 million speakers. 95 million live in Europe. Leaving 65 million in Asia (assuming there are none in the rest of the World). How am I being stubborn? That's less than 76 million for 11/12th place.
+1
Level 63
Jul 31, 2017
It was surprising that Cantonese was not on the list. I also wonder about English because India has a large number of English-speaking citizens and Sri Lanka, once Ceylon, had speakers of English.
+1
Level 65
Nov 11, 2021
I was also surprised about Cantonese, especially given the population of the Guangdong province, which is about the same as Japan. So not sure if this is a mistake.

About English in South Asia or other parts of Asia, the explanation is simple. Most speakers are not "native" speakers.

+1
Level 51
Jan 18, 2024
There are more than 100 million people in Guangdong Province, but not all of them speak Cantonese. There are also many people in Guangdong Province who speak Hakka, Teochew, Luichew Min, Shaozhou Tuhua. These languages don't belong to cantonese. Among them, Teochew and Luichew Min belong to Min, and are close relatives of Hokkien.
+1
Level 73
Apr 29, 2018
150 million native Russian speakers - surely more than 76m of these in Asia?
+6
Level ∞
Apr 29, 2018
No
+1
Level 61
Mar 22, 2024
Why does this have 5 likes
+2
Level 45
May 6, 2019
125 million English speakers in India alone
+3
Level 40
Dec 2, 2019
native speakers
+2
Level 45
Jan 25, 2020
oh this is like 3 years ago! i was thinking wheres tamil, urdu, cantonese etc. but it is in the list now
+1
Level 51
Jul 11, 2020
Got Javanese with 5 seconds left!
+2
Level 53
Feb 27, 2021
Missed Punjabi - wrote Punjab instead. Can that be accepted?
+3
Level 56
Jun 12, 2022
Also Arabia should be accepted for Arabic, Japan for Japanese and Korea for Korean
+2
Level 74
May 3, 2021
For anyone wondering, Wikipedia lists 70 million for Persian, 68 million for Urdu, 75 million for Tamil, and 83 million for Marathi (at the 2011 census; it seems like that should be added, especially as it is also listed on the Top World Languages quiz).
+1
Level 64
Mar 8, 2022
Nice quiz! Surprised not to see Tamil or Gujurati there, or Malayalam, but Punjabi there - interesting, thanks for this!
+1
Level 68
Apr 22, 2023
Turkish has 84 million native speakers according to your source
+2
Level 65
Sep 16, 2023
but more than 10 million lives in european side.
+1
Level 61
Mar 22, 2024
Cantonese?
+1
Level 54
Jun 4, 2024
Maybe it needs an update?
+1
Level 54
Jun 4, 2024
The above link/rank for 2024 is now:

Mandarin Chinese - 941

Hindi - 345

Bengali - 237

Japanese - 123

Yue Chinese - 86

Vietnamese - 85

Turkish - 84

Wu Chinese - 83

Marathi - 83

Telugu - 83

Western Punjabi - 82

Korean - 81