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Proportional Map of the World's Largest Languages

There are 7 billion people on earth and about 7000 languages, but more than half of the world's population speaks one of just 23 languages. This infographic, created by Alberto Lucas Lopéz for the South China Morning Post, shows the relative size of speaker population for all the languages that have over 50 million speakers (based on data from Ethnologue). It shows, quite strikingly, how giant the population of Chinese speakers is, compared to any of the other languages. 

On closer inspection of the full resolution map, you can see that even when broken down by dialect, Chinese is massive. At 848 million speakers, Mandarin outstrips English by half a billion. "Smaller" dialects like Wu and Cantonese outstrip the entire population of Persian and Malay speakers.

The image is further broken down by country. The smaller areas within each language show the number of speakers in different countries. Although the countries for each language are not comprehensive—countries with small numbers of speakers of that language are grouped together under a single area marked with "+"—the number of smaller areas gives a good picture of nationality and language at a glance. Arabic is spoken in a large number of countries, while Japanese is only spoken in Japan. Nearly half of Bengali speakers live in India.

The colors show which regions the countries are in using the following coding:

The coloring shows that languages like Spanish and English have wider geographic distribution than other large languages. With the exception of French, colonial languages like Spanish, English, and Portuguese have many more speakers in the new world than they have in their countries of origin.

Take a closer look at the map and view additional information at the full size version.

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26 Facts About LEGO Bricks

Since it first added plastic, interlocking bricks to its lineup, the Danish toy company LEGO (from the words Leg Godt for “play well”) has inspired builders of all ages to bring their most imaginative designs to life. Sets have ranged in size from scenes that can be assembled in a few minutes to 5000-piece behemoths depicting famous landmarks. And tinkerers aren’t limited to the sets they find in stores. One of the largest LEGO creations was a life-sized home in the UK that required 3.2 million tiny bricks to construct.

In this episode of the List Show, John Green lays out 26 playful facts about one of the world’s most beloved toy brands. To hear about the LEGO black market, the vault containing every LEGO set ever released, and more, check out the video above then subscribe to our YouTube channel to stay up-to-date with the latest flossy content.

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Of Buckeyes and Butternuts: 29 States With Weird Nicknames for Their Residents
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Tracing a word’s origin and evolution can yield fascinating historical insights—and the weird nicknames used in some states to describe their residents are no exception. In the Mental Floss video above, host John Green explains the probable etymologies of 29 monikers that describe inhabitants of certain states across the country.

Some of these nicknames, like “Hoosiers” and “Arkies” (which denote residents of Indiana and Arkansas, respectively) may have slightly offensive connotations, while others—including "Buckeyes," "Jayhawks," "Butternuts," and "Tar Heels"—evoke the military histories of Ohio, Kansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. And a few, like “Muskrats” and “Sourdoughs,” are even inspired by early foods eaten in Delaware and Alaska. ("Goober-grabber" sounds goofier, but it at least refers to peanuts, which are a common crop in Georgia, as well as North Carolina and Arkansas.)

Learn more fascinating facts about states' nicknames for their residents by watching the video above.

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