According to Cambridge University Press, the vast majority of European languages today are derived from Proto-Indo-European and spoken by 94% of the population, making them the mother tongues of the extensive Indo-European language group.

Despite its reputation, Proto-Indo-European was not the first spoken language in Europe. Unfortunately, the ancient languages of the continent were not recorded before they died out. The Basque language stands alone as a remnant of Europe's pre-Indo-European past.

There is a general consensus that West Central Asia is where the Indo-European language family had its origins, but again, it's impossible to say for sure because of how far back the languages in question date.

Here are the top languages in Europe.


It is the native tongue for around 13.3% of Europeans, equating to over 100 million people. German is the only language recognised officially in both Liechtenstein and Germany, and one of the co-official languages in Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg. German is one of three official working languages used within the European Union (EU), along with English and French. German is the second best understood language in the world, behind English. This is due to the fact that German is widely used as a second and even third language across Europe.


With a native speaking population of almost 80 million, French ranks third behind Russian and German. France uses French as its official language, and it is also recognised as an official language in Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg. With 29 nations across the world recognising it as an official language and over 45 percent of current English terms having their roots in French, the influence of the language is clearly global. Numerous global institutions, such as the United Nations, the European Union and the World Trade Organization use French as their official working language.


Approximately 70 million people in Europe are native English speakers, and the number of ex-patriate English speakers living in Europe further increases this amount. It is the de-facto language of the United Kingdom, and here in Dublin, it's one of Ireland's official languages. Second-language English speakers outnumber students of German or French in Europe.


More than 69 million people speak Italian as their mother tongue, and 3 percent of Europeans are bilingual in Italian. As well as being a minority language in Croatia and Slovenia, Italian is an official language in Italy (obviously), the Vatican City, Switzerland and San Marino. Having its roots in the Romance branch of the Indo-European language family, it is considered a member of that branch. Italy's legendary cuisine, iconic artworks and storied musical traditions are all hallmarks of the country's authentic cultural heritage. Italy is not just one of the most influential countries for fashion and design, but also where opera was first performed.


Some 534 million people worldwide, in 22 countries (including the US) alone, are native Spanish speakers.

All the countries and regions where Spanish is spoken are distinct from one another, with their own histories, cultures and economies. As a result, it shouldn't come as a shock that there are numerous varieties of Spanish spoken in different parts of the world.

Two varieties of Spanish exist for use in localisation: the natural Spanish spoken in Spain and Latin America, and an artificial language designed to promote goods to all Spanish-speaking countries, known as international or neutral Spanish, which avoids local, colloquial and country/region-specific vocabulary, syntax and usage. Because of this, texts can't be traced back to a particular area in Spain.

LatAm Spanish is a subset of the Spanish language aimed specifically at native speakers from Latin America.

And in as many countries as Spanish is spoken in, there are regional variations. There are several varieties of the Spanish language spoken across the world. The translator may employ any language variation common in the target country.


There are 40 million native Polish speakers in Europe. The Polish language belongs to the West Slavic group of the Indo-European language family and is greatly influenced by Germanic languages, predominantly German, and Italic languages such as Latin and French. Polish is centered almost entirely around Poland, where it is the official language, however, sizable Polish communities exist in the Czech Republic, Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania, Hungary and Slovakia.


Narrowly beating Dutch, Romanian takes the last spot on our list. The Romanian language is an Eastern Romance language spoken as a native language by approximately 23 million people in Europe. Romanian is primarily spoken in Romania, Moldova and Transnistria. If you like Gothic architecture and castles, the cities of Transylvania are the place to go, while if the great outdoors is more your thing, then the Bucegi Mountains and Bigar Waterfall are just a couple of things well worth your while visiting in Romania.