The English language is a West Germanic language. English originated in England. It is the largest language by number of speakers. English is the dominant language in the Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, and various island countries. It also an official language in many other countries, notably India. English is the first choice of foreign language in most other countries of the world.
The Germanic Languages
- You might have heard about language families before, and today we’ll be talking about Germanic languages. When we say Germanic languages, we’re referring to all of the languages that were once part of the language ancestor Proto-Germanic. Linguists believe this language was spoken between ca. 500 BCE until around the 5th century CE, when it began to split into different branches [...]. Besides the obvious answer, German, there are at least 47 living Germanic languages around today. Most linguists talk about this language family in terms of three branches: the Northern, Eastern and Western Germanic languages. From these three branches, we can group all the Germanic languages we know today. The Northern Germanic languages (also known as Scandinavian or Nordic languages) include Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic and Faroese. This whole branch descended from Old Norse, and still enjoys quite a bit of mutual intelligibility between the languages today. The Western Germanic languages include German, English, Dutch, Frisian, Pennsylvania Dutch, Luxembourgish, Yiddish and Afrikaans, along with a variety of disparate languages that often get lumped together as German or Dutch dialects. Unfortunately, all of the Eastern Germanic languages went extinct starting in the 4th century, and the last living language of this branch died in the late 18th century. Around 515 million people speak a Germanic language natively, with English accounting for around 360 million speakers. The next biggest language of the group is German [...]. However, if we include the number of second-language speakers, then the number jumps up to around 2 billion speakers. While quite a few people still believe that all Germanic languages evolved from different German dialects, it would be more accurate to say that they are all linguistic siblings. In this case, German isn’t the parent language, but just another offspring of Proto-Germanic.
- Encyclopedia Britannica: English language
- Encyclopedia Britannica 1911 Edition: English language
- Encyclopedia.com: English Language