The chart at the right shows has a dot for each of the most popular languages spoken on the planet. It’s plotted on a log-log graph; the vertical axis is millions, the horizontal is rank. The top language is Mandarin, though there are seven other Chinese langages in the top 30. English and Spanish are neck and neck for second place. The data is from here, though originally from here.
This posting is the complement to the posting on the cost of free trade born by the subordinate culture using which side of the road you drive on as well as the argument being made in my recent advocacy posting regarding RDF/N3 v.s. XML that translators can gloss over the difference.
As global barriers fall this distribution will grow more severe. Like an industry condensing toward a monopoly. Smaller languages will expire; larger languages will thrive. Rankings will shift because there are other forces in play; like control over economic exchanges. Anybody got a babble fish?