Introduction and Global Importance of English
– English is a West Germanic language in the Indo-European language family.
– It originated in early medieval England and was named by the Angles, one of the ancient Germanic peoples.
– English is the most spoken language in the world and the third-most spoken native language.
– It is the most widely learned second language globally.
– English is the official language or one of the official languages in 59 sovereign states.
– It is a co-official language of the United Nations, the European Union, and many other international organizations.
– English is the de facto language of diplomacy, science, international trade, tourism, aviation, entertainment, and the internet.
– It accounts for at least 70% of total speakers of the Germanic language branch.
– There are over two billion English speakers worldwide.
Historical Evolution of English
– Old English emerged from West Germanic dialects spoken by the Anglo-Saxons.
– Middle English borrowed extensively from French dialects and Latin.
– English exists on a dialect continuum with Scots and is closely related to Low Saxon and Frisian.
– Old English evolved into Middle English, which further developed into Modern English.
– Various dialects of Old and Middle English gave rise to other Anglic languages, such as Scots.
Influence of Other Languages on English
– English was influenced by invasions of the British Isles by Old Norse and Norman French.
– These influences left a profound mark on the vocabulary and grammar of English.
– English shows similarities in vocabulary and grammar with languages outside its linguistic clades.
– However, it is not mutually intelligible with any continental Germanic or other languages.
– Some scholars consider English a mixed language or a creole, although this theory is debated.
Classification and Linguistic Features of English
– English is classified as a Germanic language within the West Germanic group.
– It shares innovations with other Germanic languages like Dutch, German, and Swedish.
– English is also classified as an Anglo-Frisian language due to shared features with Frisian.
– It underwent significant sound changes, known as Grimms and Verners laws.
– Modern English has a mostly analytic pattern, relying on auxiliary verbs and word order for expression.
Spread of English and Geographical Distribution
– British Empire spread English through its colonies and geopolitical dominance.
– English was adopted in parts of North America, Africa, Oceania, and other regions.
– Newly independent states opted to continue using English as the official language to avoid political difficulties.
– The United States’ cultural influence and broadcasting in English contributed to the language’s global spread.
– English is spoken by communities on every continent and on islands in major oceans.
– 400 million people speak English as their first language, and 1.1 billion speak it as a secondary language.
– English is an official language in countries with few descendants of native speakers.
– English is the most important language for international communication.
English is a West Germanic language in the Indo-European language family, whose speakers, called Anglophones, originated in early medieval England. The namesake of the language is the Angles, one of the ancient Germanic peoples that migrated to the island of Great Britain. Modern English is both the most spoken language in the world and the third-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. It is also the most widely learned second language in the world, with more second-language speakers than native speakers.
|United Kingdom, Anglo-America, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and other locations in the English-speaking world
|English people (historically)
|L1: 380 million (2021)
L2: 1.077 billion (2021)
Total: 1.457 billion
|Manually coded English
Official language in
Countries and territories where English is the native language of the majority
Countries and territories where English is an official or administrative language but not a majority native language
English is either the official language or one of the official languages in 59 sovereign states (such as in India, Ireland, and Canada). In some other countries, it is the sole or dominant language for historical reasons without being explicitly defined by law (such as in the United States or United Kingdom). It is a co-official language of the United Nations, the European Union, and many other international and regional organisations. It has also become the de facto language of diplomacy, science, international trade, tourism, aviation, entertainment and the internet. English accounts for at least 70% of total speakers of the Germanic language branch, and as of 2005, it was estimated that there were over two billion speakers worldwide.
Old English emerged from a group of West Germanic dialects spoken by the Anglo-Saxons. Late Old English borrowed some grammar and core vocabulary from Old Norse, a North Germanic language. Then, Middle English borrowed words extensively from French dialects, which make up about 28% of Modern English vocabulary, and from Latin, which also provides about 28%. Thus, although most of its total vocabulary now comes from Romance languages, its grammar, phonology, and most commonly-used words keep it genealogically classified under the Germanic branch. English exists on a dialect continuum with Scots and then is most closely related to the Low Saxon and Frisian languages.
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