There is basically no country in the world wherein only a single language is spoken. And as we become more and more globally connected, the number of polyglots per capita will only continue to grow. Here’s a look at the most multilingual countries in the world.
This small European country has a population that is essentially fluent in four languages. In fact, these languages have converged to become a language that is affectionately known locally as “Luxembourgish.” It’s a sort of amalgamation of French and German — which are both official languages of the country. But most citizens can speak English as well, as it tends to be compulsory in secondary school. Spanish, Italian, and other European languages can be found there in spades as well, making it a tiny country where most citizens are fluent in four languages.
This tiny little Southeast Asian country has four official languages: Malay, Mandarin, English, and Tamil. It is a profoundly ethnically diverse city-state, boasting residents from Australia, China, India, and other smaller Asian countries. Like Luxembourg, some of the languages have sort of melded together to create its own slang, known as “Singlish,” which is largely understandable to English speakers, but not completely.
Boasting one of the highest counts of official languages, countless languages are spoken in South Africa. There are 11 official languages, including Zulu and Xhosa, but English is the primary language of their government. Though they might not be completely fluent in the 11 languages spoken there, most South Africans can converse in at least three different languages.
There are two national languages in India: Hindi and English. Typically speaking, the educated Indian has a knowledge of both, but the interesting thing about language in India is that the Hindi dialect changes dramatically from state to state. People who work or travel frequently between states tend to pick up the different ways the language is spoken from region to region, thus making them polyglots in their own right. In fact, most educated Indians are at least trilingual.
Photo credit: Alexis Brown
Jennifer Bustance is a California-based freelance writer, playwright, and novelist. Her plays have been performed all over the country, and her prose has appeared in various online and print publications. Jennifer is a teaching artist with the Playwrights Project, San Diego Writers, Ink, and UCSD Extension. She is the Playwright in Residence at the Scripps Ranch Theatre and a founding member of their New Works Studio. She has an MFA from Columbia University and a BA from Sarah Lawrence College.
In addition to writing blogs for us, Brian Gruters manages translation projects for corporate clients. He started with Language Translation in 2015.
Brian brings several years of experience as a Spanish to English translator to his work. He has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from the University of Arizona and a master’s in Environment and Resource Studies from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.
As a writer, Brian is mostly interested in language, science, and environmental conservation issues. He writes for various publications, as well as his blog, briangruters.com.
Jennifer Bustance is a California-based freelance writer, playwright, and novelist originally from Troy, Michigan. Her plays have been performed all over the country, and her prose has appeared in various online and print publications.
Jennifer is a teaching artist with the Playwrights Project, San Diego Writers, Ink, and UCSD Extension. She is the Playwright in Residence at the Scripps Ranch Theatre and a founding member of their New Works Studio. She has a Master of Fine Arts degree from Columbia University and a BA from Sarah Lawrence College.
Chris Maroulakos has worked at Language Translation since 2007, and he is currently the director of operations. He has been a blogger and managing editor for the San Diego music blog Owl and Bear since 2008, and he also worked as a blogger and associate editor for NBC San Diego's SoundDiego music blog.
Chris holds certifications in SDL Trados Studio for Translators (Advanced Level), SDL Trados Studio for Project Managers, and SDL MultiTerm for Translators and Project Managers. He is Inbound Certified by HubSpot and also has certifications in Localization and Localization Project Management from California State University Chico, the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA), and the Localization Institute.
He graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with a BA in Communications and with minors in Italian and International Studies.