Top 10 Most Useful Languages

02 May

Anatoly Karlin has a good post on the top 10 most useful world languages.

For more detail look there. His ordering goes as follows, though I’m not sure I agree.

1. English
2. Spanish
3. Chinese
4. Russian
5. Arabic
6. French
7. Portuguese
8. Japanese
9. Turkish
10. German

My own ordering would be something like this:

1. English, no doubt
2. French, still the language of culture and of the chic, despite its precipitous decline in importance. Most Arab businessmen prefer to use either French or English to Arabic
3. Chinese, surging in importance and use, though it’s hard to get beyond the basic stage
4. Arabic, despite the dialects making it confusing, if you can speak Arabic and you live in the west, you’re government will employ you to do something with it
5. Spanish, populous and great for world travel, but still not that important culturally or economically. An advantage is that it’s easy to learn, but that also makes it less of a skill to know
6. Russian, lots of culture, but declining in importance; if you know it, however, you’ll find a use for it
7. German, still strong, despite its similar decline and useful in business and much of culture
8. Japanese, in decline as well, but chic and a useful skill to know
9. Portuguese, growing in importance, but still not that powerful culturally; useful in travel industry
10. Turkish, becoming more important economically and politically, but a somewhat isolated tongue with little cultural output or prestige


Posted by on May 2, 2011 in Language, Tourism


3 responses to “Top 10 Most Useful Languages

  1. Sublime Oblivion

    May 3, 2011 at 4:03 am

    Thanks for the shout out.

    I’m not opposed to your interpretation, but one thing I’d stress is that the easiness of a language also plays a big role in my list.

    For instance, in the time it takes for a typical European to master Arabic or Japanese, she can learn Spanish, French, and Italian. The easiness of Spanish is a major factor in why I placed it second.

    • Dan Bablinskas

      May 3, 2011 at 2:12 pm

      Thanks for the response. I like your blog a lot.

      I suppose I was considering two variables more than difficulty. How prestigious, chic or cultured a language is viewed and how much of a chance you have of actually using it in a career. Unfortunately, Spanish (a lovely language, one I speak quite well) doesn’t seem to hold up on either level. Among Americans, I think French is still the best bet and it’s still considered the language of diplomacy and the arts. is a cool website you might like if you don’t already know about.

  2. future is now

    September 16, 2011 at 10:42 am

    in 30 j:

    1 Chinese
    2. Spanish
    3. Arabic
    4. English
    5. French
    6. Russian
    7. Portuguese
    8. Turkish
    9. Japanese
    10. German


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