1. The areal size of the regions is not consistently proportional to their population size. For example, although Chinese is the first language (or native or mother tongue) for more people than any other language, the area where Chinese dominate is much smaller than the combined area making up the English language region, the number of native speakers of Russian is smaller than the populations speaking Chinese, English, Spanish, Hindi or Urdu.
2. The second observation is that the regions do not necessarily match national boundaries. Some languages are spoken in more than one country. For example, English, Spanish or Arabic is the primary language in many countries, and German is dominant in a few countries.
The majority of the Bengali and Portuguese speakers are in two countries each. At the geographic scale mapped.
Chinese, Russian or Hindi is the major language in only one country each, i.e., China, Russia and India respectively. In each of these three countries, however, other languages are spoken by a large number of people. Of the ten major languages, only Japanese is spoken primarily in one country and almost exclusively so.
The distribution of languages on maps is generally done by geographers. These maps give only a generalized picture of languages in the form of regional distribution as only the dominant languages are plotted.
Such maps conceal the degree of distribution of minor languages and dialects. Moreover, the language maps also conceal the qualitative aspect of language.
For example, such maps do not show the people who are fluent in more than their first or native language. For example, English is used as a second language in several areas of the world outside the English linguistic region.
The total number of English speakers in India exceeds the total English-speaking population of Australia, and the number of English-speaking population in Nigeria is equal to the English-speaking population of New Zealand. Secondly, most maps showing the entire world cannot clearly depict very small language regions.
For instance, Chinese is the major language of many communities in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore and USA. If greater detail is desired, it would be necessary to shift to large scale maps which may be difficult to handle for the purpose of regional comparison.
An examination that there are twenty-nine dominant languages in the world, each of which is spoken by more than 40 million people out of these, twelve languages (Chinese, English, Hindi, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Bengali, Portuguese, Malay-Indonesia, Japanese German, and French) are spoken by more than 100 million people. Urdu and Punjabi are also approaching the 100 million mark.
It is expected that by the end of the 20th century, Korean, Telugu (Andhra Pradesh) and Tamil (Tamil Nadu) languages shall also approach the 100 million mark.