How many people speak English?

bryan   Mon Jun 11, 2007 2:04 am GMT
Including second and foreign language speakers, how many people can speak English to a degree where they will be able to entirely understand and communicate in it? Some estimates are at almost a billion, but I don't believe this. This is because I think it might be a bit exaggerated or that everyone who can utter five sentences will call themselves English-speakers.

My estimate on the number of people who can actually understand the language effectively is closer to about 700-750 million. I think that the number of people who can speak English fluently or proficiently as a second language is about even with the number of native speakers or maybe a little more.

And please, don't make nonsense posts like "I can speak it. Count me in."