Top Ten Languages with a Surprisingly Low Number of Speakers

Some languages are well-known. They are often spoken in affluent regions with significant economic output. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that these languages have a large number of speakers.

There may be many people who visit places where these languages are spoken, and there may be numerous celebrities who speak them. Despite this, they are disproportionately represented in the media compared to the relatively few speakers they actually have.
The Top Ten
1 Hawaiian

Hawaii is a very popular tourist destination, and words in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi like "aloha" are known worldwide. Despite this fame, only about 25,000 people speak Hawaiian. Part of this is due to Hawaii's low population, as well as the suppression of this language at elementary schools in favor of English.

2 Norwegian

Norway may have a lot of tourism and fame, but its population doesn't reflect that. While Norway is a highly developed country with a high standard of living, the number of people who speak Norsk is smaller than most people think, at only 5,200,000. This is actually fewer people than Norway's population due to there being minority languages spoken in Norway, like the indigenous Sami, and foreign languages like Serbo-Croatian, Arabic, and English.

3 Hebrew

With 9-10 million speakers, עִבְרִית (ʿĪvrīt) is spoken in many Jewish communities, as well as the state of Israel. Judaism often supports higher education, resulting in a disproportionately high number of Jews in positions of power. However, due to the Holocaust, the current Jewish population is less than its peak before World War II. While Jews may be highly influential, their actual population is pretty low, resulting in Hebrew's low popularity.

4 Gaelic

Gaeilge is a language that has historically been bullied by the English-speaking British Crown. In fact, the island of Ireland has fewer people today (June 2024) than it did before the potato famine. Due to depopulation in Ireland and adoption of English, less than 2,000,000 people speak Irish, but many people in Ireland want to encourage others to learn it.

5 Finnish

Finland has a high economy for its size, but that economy isn't all that big. This means that its population is rather small, and only 5.6 million people speak Finnish, or Suomi, as it's called in its respective language. Also, much of Finland is cold and sparsely populated, to the point where even Singapore has more residents than Finland does. Finland punches above its population weight class in both land area and economy, but its low population is reflected by the Finnish language.

6 Latin

Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, and many other languages are direct descendants of Vulgar Latin, which was spoken by the lower classes in the Roman Empire. Despite this influence, the only country that uses Lingua Latina as an official language is Vatican City, the least populated country in the world, and there are no more than 5,000 proficient users of Latin.

7 Danish

Denmark is home to companies like Maersk Group, DSV, and Lego, but Dansk is spoken by no more than 5.75 million people. This is because Denmark is multicultural, with many speakers of immigrant languages who learn English, but not Danish. As a result, Denmark may have a lot of influence, but its population, and therefore, the number of Danish speakers, isn't that high.

8 Icelandic

Tourism to Iceland is very common. In fact, Iceland receives more than three times its population in tourism annually. Iceland might have a fairly high land area, but its land is volcanic, unstable, and the cold weather is unfriendly to development in most parts of Iceland. Also, more people in Iceland speak English than Íslenska, resulting in the native language only having 350,000 speakers.

9 Greek

Greece was once a big deal, but due to the expansion of the Roman Empire, Greece's influence today is nothing like it once was. Ancient Greek culture and mythology are well known today, but Ελληνικά, or Elliniká, only has at most 14 million speakers. Today, Greece is an isolated peninsula that is deeply indebted to Germany, and it's poor and underdeveloped compared to the rest of Europe.

10 Welsh

Welsh, or Cymraeg, is spoken mostly in Wales, a region where English has, for the most part, replaced the native language. Britain didn't recognize Welsh as an official language, and children were often banned from using it at schools. As a result, English is the majority language in Wales. Although the existence of this language is well known, there are no more than 700,000 Welsh speakers today.

The Contenders
11 Mongolian
12 Aramaic
13 Esperanto
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