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How Many Spoken Languages Are There On Earth?

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

April 9, 2012

Comments (1)

Multicultural group of children standing around an enormous ball that looks like the earth / globe.Did you know that there are over 6,800 spoken languages on earth today?

Given the amazing diversity of tongues around the world, I thought it would be fitting to take a look at languages and how we use them in greater detail.

Join me now as we explore the spoken word, and one nation's languages in particular, in today's VOX Daily.

6,800+ Languages!

It's amazing to think that there are so many spoken languages. It's also amazing to come into contact with people who are gifted in the art of translation; people who are able to translate important messages with both accuracy and fluency into the heart languages (mother tongues) of other people.

A month or so ago, I attended an evening at my church that focused on bible translation and the work that Wycliffe linguist-translator Rebekah Drew and her colleague Julie are doing among the Teop people of Papua New Guinea (PNG). You may be surprised to learn that while its population is only 6,858,266 (approx.), Papua New Guinea is a nation where 830 distinct languages are spoken.

Map of Papua New Guinea (PNG)

To paint a picture for you, the Teop people live in a coastal area on Teop Island in the northeast of Bougainville Province, Tinputz District of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. The 5,000 people that live there have their own language (Teop). There are three official languages in PNG, including Tok Pisin, Hiri Motu and English (most frequently used in Parliament, business and taught in schools). If interested, here's a link to where you can access some PNG language resources.

Below, I've included a beautiful picture of Teop Island.

Teop Island

Translation Focus

Home on furlough, Rebekah is offering a three-week course called "The Power of Words." I'll be in attendance and will share insights via this blog each week documenting what I have learned as it relates to translation and voice-over.

What Languages Do You Speak?

Out of the 6,800+ languages that are out there now, I'd love to know what language(s) you speak. If you speak more than one language, what do you use each one of them for?

Comment and let me know!

Best wishes,


©iStockphoto.com/Morgan Lane Studios
Map of Papua New Guinea via Lonely Planet
Photo of Teop Island via Tartan Tales

Related Topics: child, SAG


    Great article! I'm actually trilingual and speak English, Hindi and Urdu!

    Hindi is the official language of India and Urdu the official language of Pakistan. I've recorded numerous voiceovers in Hindi for clients like Pepsi India and India Today Magazine and voiceovers in Urdu for clients like Greg Mortenson and the United States Census Bureau for which I actually was the Announcer, Voice Coach, Translator and Casting Consultant!

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