Jun 2, 2020

Did you know that the Guinness Book of World Records has several language-related world records?

See some of them below along with other records related to languages and translation:


Which country has the most official languages?

The country with the most languages is Zimbabwe, with 16 official languages.

A typical definition of official language, such as the one given by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, is: ‘A language that has legal status in a particular legally constituted political entity and that serves as a language of administration’. From a nation-wide perspective, one might add India that has 18 languages which are recognised by its constitution and can be considered as official. However, the difference is that each language is recognised as the official language of a certain area e.g. Kashmiri in Kashmir. The overall official language is Hindi, and this is what all central government decrees are written in, along with English. English is not considered an official language of the country, but rather a ‘second language’.


Which country speaks/has the most languages?

Papua New Guinea, a nation state in the Pacific Ocean north of Australia, plays host to speakers of more languages than any other country – a total of 840 living languages, according to the 22nd edition of Ethnologue: Languages of the World, published in 2019. These include Tok Pisin, Motu and English.

Ethnologue currently documents 7,111 languages. Most of Papua New Guinea’s 7.6 million population live in fragmented rural areas with their own regional dialects; indeed, most of the country’s languages are spoken by fewer than 1,000 people. Of the country’s 840 living languages, 839 are indigenous and one (Chinese) is non-indigenous.


Which languages are the most spoken in the world?

Roughly 6,500 languages are spoken in the world today. Each and every one of them make the world a diverse and beautiful place. Sadly, some of these languages are less widely spoken than others. Others are spoken by huge populations across different countries, and are often popular choices among language learners.

In this map from Ethnologue, you can see the most updated numbers that state English to be the most spoken language in the world closely followed by Chinese Mandarin.


What is the English word with the most meanings?

The word with the most meanings in English is the verb ‘set’, with 430 senses listed in the Second Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, published in 1989. The word commands the longest entry in the dictionary at 60,000 words, or 326,000 characters.


What is the longest know palindromic word?

The longest known palindromic word is saippuakivikauppias (19 letters), which is Finnish for a dealer in lye (caustic soda). A palindrome is a word or phrase where the letters read backwards, give the same word or phrase, e.g.: the phrase ‘Madam I’m Adam’, with the reply ‘Eve’.


What is the most translated document?

The most translated document is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights drafted by the United Nations in 1948. As of 2009, it has been translated into 370 languages and dialects from Abkhaz to Zulu.

The Declaration arose from the experience of WW II and was drafted on 10 December 1948.


Who is the most translated author for the same book?

The most translated author for the same book is Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, for the book Le Petit Prince, which has been translated into 382 different languages and dialects since its publication in April 1943.

The languages of translation range from Abkhaz to Zulu.

Read our blogpost……


Who is the most translated author in general?

The most translated author is Agatha Christie (UK), with 7,236 translations derived from her written works catalogued by UNESCO’s Index Translationum, as verified on 7 March 2017.

Christie is the creator of popular fictional detectives Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, and her works include The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and Murder on the Orient Express.


For other language records please read our blogpost “Guinness Book of Language record” (version 1).

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