What are the most common foreign languages in your country?

... after English?
And where do you come from?


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Most Helpful Guy

  • I'm from Switzerland. We have four official languages: German, French, Italian and Rhaeto-Romance (also called "Rumansh"). Ironically, we're possibly the only country in the world where the large majority of the population speaks a language that is not any of its official languages. In Switzerland, around 65% of the population speak Swiss. For many foreigners, this is very confusing. Swiss and German are not the same language. The difference between them is comparable to the difference between Dutch and standard high German. Most Germans don't understand Swiss, unless they come from the very south of Germany. The reason Switzerland doesn't recognize its own language as an official language has historical reasons but also linguistic ones. For one, there is no standard Swiss. There is only a large variety of different dialects. Compared to an outside language such as German, they make a sort of unified language because they have many similarities but there is no such thing as "standard high Swiss". More curiously and confusingly for most foreigners, Swiss is mostly a spoken language. Young people also use it to write text messages, chats and emails in Swiss but this a rather new trend. Originally, Swiss was only a spoken language while all written things (books, newspapers, street signs etc.) are in German. In school, teachers are obligated to teach in high German, although they are themselves Swiss and their students are Swiss too. Yet, apart from school, we exclusively speak Swiss among ourselves. This can make tourists very confused when they proudly realize that they understand all the street signs or newspapers because they've been learning German but when they hear Swiss people talk, they don't understand a thing.
    Another rather strange thing is that the third most commonly spoken language, English, is also not one of our official languages.
    So in short, the most commonly spoken languages are:
    - Swiss (all natives of the German speaking area talk this language)
    - High German (we have lots of German expats)
    - English (almost all Swiss people are bi- or trilingual and almost everyone speaks pretty decent English. We also have a large foreign community who converse in English)
    - French (in the French speaking area of Switzerland called "Romandie")
    - Italian (in the Italian speaking are of Switzerland called "Ticino")

    There are also others such as Turkish, Spanish, Albanian etc. but the ones above are the most commonly spoken ones ;-).

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    • well that was a detailed answer, thanks :)

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    • @jaquesvol: Yes and no ;-). I study linguistics so I'm well aware of this argument and you're not wrong by what you said. Yet there are also linguistic arguments that could be used to argue for the opposite. For example a rule of thumb in linguistics is that two ways of speaking are different languages if they are not mutually intelligible and they are dialects if they are mutually intelligible. As for Swiss and German, they are to a large degree not mutually intelligible. We Swiss people understand German because we have to learn it in school but the opposite is not the case for the most part. In fact, most Germans wrongly believe Swiss is the way Swiss people sound when they attempt to talk standard German ;-) (so they mistake the Swiss accent in standard German for actual Swiss). However, I admit that I might also argue for it to be an independent languages for political reasons. The whole thing has quite a lot to do with linguistic politics and in Switzerland, there is sort of a

    • hate-love relationship to Germany and German people. We don't exactly like it when people say we're the same, even if we probably share many similarities in terms of culture. Perhaps this also has to do with the fact that Switzerland is so tiny and Germany is so big (for us). In any case, I believe high Alemannic is still quite different from standard German. In the same way, one could also argue that low Alemannic varieties such as Frisian are an independent language. It's true that Swiss dialects share many similarities with "Schw√§bisch" spoken in places like Stuttgart (not so much with Bavarian in my opinion). The continuum is certainly there but there are also some strong border within this continuum, partially for historical reasons. Swiss dialects resemble in many aspects middle high German spoken in Germany during the 14th century or so (the same goes for Dutch). As for the literary tradition... I don't think there is much but there are authors starting to write in Swiss now ;-)

Most Helpful Girl

  • Uhhh I'm from South Africa. We have 11 official languages lol. English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa, Tswana, sotho, Northan Sotho, venda, swati, Tsonga, Ndebele. Just to name a few. And we also speak other languages like Spanish, German, Greek and French etc :)

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    • that's a lot!

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    • My question was actually if Chosa and Sotho are similar :)

    • I answered it though? :)

What Guys Said 21

  • Hard to say. Here you find diversity. Many people from South America come to Brazil to try to have a better life, so you can see people speaking Spanish occasionally. If you go to the South though, you'll see a lot of German descendants and in some towns in Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina (two of southern states) German is as commonly spoken as Portuguese.

    So, I can't be sure about it, principally because I'm not counting the language spoken by the few indian natives who are still alive here.

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    • I did not know that German so much present in the US

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    • Ah sorry! I thought you were from the US, but I see you are from Brazil. Yeah but still I'm surprised :D

    • Yeah, it's surprising. Many people don't know that around the world, but it's an interesting fact anyway.

  • in America it's
    English
    Spanish
    Chinese

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  • Most common foreign languages are English, Spanish , Italian, Tamazigh (Berber language) , Arabic.
    National languages are Dutch, French and German.

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  • Canada. English and French are both official, so after that would be stuff like Mandarin, Punjabi, Spanish, Tagalog, Farsi, Cantonese...

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  • Spanish... california.
    Arabic... lebanon.

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  • We've 22 official languages. When you move to one state to another there'll be new language. Most of our official languages are like foreign languages to all of citizens 😂
    I know only 3 of those so rest 19 languages are foreign for me.

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    • After English there is this language called Kharia. It is 43rd most spoken language with 0.027% of population. English is 42nd most spoken language here with 0.027% of total population.

  • Just saying English could be a foreign language in someone's nation.

    Anyways in America if would definitely be Spanish considering much of the Modern United States was apart of Spain or Mexico in the past. The significant Hispanic minority here. After that I have no idea though.

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  • 1. English
    2. german,
    3. french, Spanish, italian

    that's the order i think
    I come from Hungary

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  • England, the most common are probably shit like Welsh and Hindi.

    We also have more obscure ones like Cornish, but I think like 1,000 people left in the world actually speak that.

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  • Spanish seems to be, I'm from USA

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  • Spanish and Spanish USA I am in Texas

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  • English then Spanish, then french mainly in Louisiana, then Arabic. I live in the "US

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  • I am Egyptian so the first language is Arabic then English then french

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  • Germany and Turkish is the most common spoken language after German.

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  • Arabic and english! And i'm originally from Pakistan!

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  • Australia and probably Japanese

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  • That would be Spanish. But that should change. #Trump2016

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  • french afre Arabic i'm from Algeria

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  • Spanish, Arabic, Cantonese, Greek

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  • Arabian in mu country

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  • French in Canada

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What Girls Said 12

  • I'm from USA i think the most common are Spanish, Creole, Chinese, Arabic, Portuguese, and I think Urdu is pretty common too.

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  • I'm from the UK and have noticed that there are a lot of Polish and Romanian speakers, especially in the South where I live.

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  • I don't know about Australia. But in Malaysia it's Mandarin and English, the official language there is Malay.

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  • I'm from Lithuania, and I'd say it's a tie between both English and Russian. I know a good few are learning German too, so that might be another one.

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    • wow, it's surprising that Russian is so on the same level with English

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    • I never even started, I've lived in Ireland for the past 6 years

    • (sorry for my annoying questions :D)

  • Spanish is... I think... I'm from the good old US of A.

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  • Spanish definitely. It's such a fun language :) sounds great rolling off the tongue.

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  • Actually the most common foreign language in my country is French, and after comes English.

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  • French I guess. Possibly russian because they used to teach it in east germany
    I'm from germany

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  • After English... It's either Mandarin or Spanish...

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  • in my area i also hear Spanish and cantonese a lot

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  • French! Canada

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  • German /French (im Greek 😃)

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