World language

The social group enables its members to benefit in ways that would not otherwise be possible on an individual basis. Both individual and social (common) goals can thus be distinguished and considered. Ant (formicidae) social ethology.

Language that is geographically widespread and makes it possible for members of different language communities to communicate.

- World language

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Lingua franca

Language or dialect systematically used to make communication possible between groups of people who do not share a native language or dialect, particularly when it is a third language that is distinct from both of the speakers' native languages.

Koine Greek
The Hispanophone and influential areas
Status of Arabic language map
Areas where Russian is the majority language (medium blue) or a minority language (light blue)
Areas (red) where Hindustani (Delhlavi or Kauravi) is the native language, and the much wider area of the Indo-Aryan language group (gray), where it is lengua franca
Countries where Malay is spoken
Geographic extent of Swahili. Dark green: native range. Medium green: official use. Light green: bilingual use but not official.
Areas with significant numbers of people whose first language is Persian (including dialects)
Rough territorial extent of Hand Talk (in purple) within the US and Canada

A world language – a language spoken internationally and by many people – is a language that may function as a global lingua franca.

International auxiliary language

Language meant for communication between people from all different nations, who do not share a common first language.

English has become a language of communication across the globe.

The Academy was set up to conserve and perfect the auxiliary language Volapük, but soon conflicts arose between conservative Volapükists and those who wanted to reform Volapük to make it a more naturalistic language based on the grammar and vocabulary of major world languages.

Spanish language

Romance language of the Indo-European language family that evolved from colloquial spoken Latin in the Iberian Peninsula of Europe.

Map indicating places where the language is called castellano (in red) or español (in blue)
The Visigothic Cartularies of Valpuesta, written in a late form of Latin, were declared in 2010 by the Royal Spanish Academy as the record of the earliest words written in Castilian, predating those of the Glosas Emilianenses.
Chronological map showing linguistic evolution in southwest Europe
Antonio de Nebrija, author of Gramática de la lengua castellana, the first grammar of a modern European language.
Percentage of the U.S. population aged 5 and over who speaks Spanish at home in 2019, by states.
Spanish language signage in Malabo, capital city of Equatorial Guinea.
Early flag of the Filipino revolutionaries ("Long live the Philippine Republic!!!"). The first two constitutions were written in Spanish.
Announcement in Spanish on Easter Island, welcoming visitors to Rapa Nui National Park
Miguel de Cervantes, considered by many the greatest author of Spanish literature, and author of Don Quixote, widely considered the first modern European novel.
Spanish vowel chart, from
A world map attempting to identify the main dialects of Spanish.
An examination of the dominance and stress of the voseo feature in Hispanic America. Data generated as illustrated by the Association of Spanish Language Academies. The darker the area, the stronger its dominance.
The Rashi script, originally used to print Judaeo-Spanish.
An original letter in Haketia, written in 1832.
Arms of the Royal Spanish Academy
The Royal Spanish Academy Headquarters in Madrid, Spain.
Countries members of the ASALE.
Cervantes Institute headquarters, Madrid

Today, it is a global language with nearly 500 million native speakers, mainly in the Americas and Spain.


Semitic language that first emerged in the 1st to 4th centuries CE.

Safaitic inscription
The Namara inscription, a sample of Nabataean script, considered a direct precursor of Arabic script.
Arabic from the Quran in the old Hijazi dialect (Hijazi script, 7th century AD)
The Qur'an has served and continues to serve as a fundamental reference for Arabic. (Maghrebi Kufic script, Blue Qur'an, 9th-10th century)
Coverage in Al-Ahram in 1934 of the inauguration of the Academy of the Arabic Language in Cairo, an organization of major importance to the modernization of Arabic.
Taha Hussein and Gamal Abdel Nasser were both staunch defenders of Standard Arabic.
Flag of the Arab League, used in some cases for the Arabic language
Flag used in some cases for the Arabic language (Flag of the Kingdom of Hejaz 1916–1925).The flag contains the four Pan-Arab colors: black, white, green and red.
Different dialects of Arabic
Arabic calligraphy written by a Malay Muslim in Malaysia. The calligrapher is making a rough draft.

These academies and organizations have worked toward the Arabization of the sciences, creating terms in Arabic to describe new concepts, toward the standardization of these new terms throughout the Arabic-speaking world, and toward the development of Arabic as a world language.

English language

West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family, originally spoken by the inhabitants of early medieval England.

The West Germanic languages
The opening to the Old English epic poem Beowulf, handwritten in half-uncial script: Hƿæt ƿē Gārde/na ingēar dagum þēod cyninga / þrym ge frunon... "Listen! We of the Spear-Danes from days of yore have heard of the glory of the folk-kings..."
Graphic representation of the Great Vowel Shift, showing how the pronunciation of the long vowels gradually shifted, with the high vowels i: and u: breaking into diphthongs and the lower vowels each shifting their pronunciation up one level
Braj Kachru's Three Circles of English
Countries in which English Language is a Mandatory or an Optional Subject
In the English sentence The cat sat on the mat, the subject is the cat (a noun phrase), the verb is sat, and on the mat is a prepositional phrase (composed of a noun phrase the mat headed by the preposition on). The tree describes the structure of the sentence.
Map showing the main dialect regions in the UK and Ireland
Rhoticity dominates in North American English. The Atlas of North American English found over 50% non-rhoticity, though, in at least one local white speaker in each U.S. metropolitan area designated here by a red dot. Non-rhotic African American Vernacular English pronunciations may be found among African Americans regardless of location.

Modern English, sometimes described as the first global lingua franca, is also regarded as the first world language.

French language

Romance language of the Indo-European family.

Knowledge of French in the European Union and candidate countries
Distribution of native French speakers in 6 countries in 2021
French language spread in the United States. Counties marked in lighter pink are those where 6–12% of the population speaks French at home; medium pink, 12–18%; darker pink, over 18%. French-based creole languages are not included.
Town sign in Standard Arabic and French at the entrance of Rechmaya in Lebanon
A 500-CFP franc (€4.20; US$5.00) banknote, used in French Polynesia, New Caledonia and Wallis and Futuna
Varieties of the French language in the world

A leading world language, French is taught in universities around the world, and is one of the world's most influential languages because of its wide use in the worlds of journalism, jurisprudence, education, and diplomacy.

David Graddol

British linguist who worked in applied linguistics, discourse analysis, sociolinguistics, and history of linguistics.

Young children in a kindergarten in Japan

He was perhaps best known for his 1997 book The future of English?, published by the British Council, in which he offers scenarios for how English as a world language may develop.

Global language system

The "ingenious pattern of connections between language groups".

This flowchart depicts the hierarchy of the languages in de Swaan's (2001) global language system theory.
This pyramid illustrates the hierarchy of the world's languages as proposed by Graddol (1997) in his book, 'The future of English? A guide to forecasting the popularity of the English language in the 21st century', published by the British Council.

Michael Morris argued that while it is clear that there is language hierarchy from the "ongoing interstate competition and power politics", there is little evidence provided that shows that the "global language interaction is so intense and systematic that it constitutes a global language system, and that the entire system is held together by one global language, English".

English as a second or foreign language

Use of English by speakers with different native languages.

English classes in Moscow in 1964
Young Jayaji Rao Sindhia, Maharaja of Gwalior, studying English, 1846

EIL – English as an international language (see main article at International English)


In its most general sense, the term "world" refers to the totality of entities, to the whole of reality or to everything that is.

The Blue Marble, a photograph of the planet Earth made on 7 December 1972 by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft.
Yggdrasil, a modern attempt to reconstruct the Norse world tree which connects the heavens, the world, and the underworld.
Image of the physical world, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope

Other examples include terms such as "world religion", "world language", "world government", "world war", "world population", "world economy" or "world championship".