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Summary by language family

The genetic classifications given in the language entries of Part I name 94 different language families (that is, top-level genetic groups). Six of these, each of which has at least 5% of the world's languages, stand out as the major language families of the world. Together they account for nearly two-thirds of all languages and five-sixths of the world's population. Table 3 summarizes the distribution of languages and their populations within these six families. The columns are as for table 1, with the addition of a final column listing the countries under which the main entries for the languages of that family are found in Part I.

In addition to the other 88 language families, the genetic classification scheme also includes special categories for artificial languages, creoles, deaf sign languages, language isolates, mixed languages, pidgins, and unclassified languages. Table 4 summarizes the distribution of languages and their populations for these other language families and special categories. In most cases the population as a percentage of the world population is negligible; a figure is shown in that column only when the value is at least one-hundredth of one percent. Together tables 3 and 4 account for all known living languages of the world.


Table 3. Major language families of the world



Table 4. Other language families of the world



Go to Summary by:

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