English Speakers by Country

English is a West Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England and is now a global lingua franca.Named after the Angles, one of the Germanic tribes that migrated to England, it ultimately derives its name from the Anglia peninsula in the Baltic Sea. It is most closely related to the Frisian languages, although its vocabulary has been significantly influenced by other Germanic languages in the early medieval period, and later by Romance languages, particularly French.

English is either the official language or one of the official languages in almost 60 sovereign states. It is the most commonly spoken language in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand, and is widely spoken in some areas of the Caribbean, Africa, and South Asia.

English has developed over the course of more than 1,400 years. The earliest forms of English, a set of Anglo-Frisian dialects brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers in the fifth century, are called Old English. Middle English began in the late 11th century with the Norman conquest of England, and was a period in which the language was influenced by French.

Modern English has little inflection compared with many other languages, and relies more on auxiliary verbs and word order for the expression of complex tenses, aspect and mood, as well as passive constructions, interrogatives and some negation.

English is classified as a Germanic language because it shares new language features with other Germanic languages such as Dutch, German, and Swedish. These shared innovations show that the languages have descended from a single common ancestor, which linguists call Proto-Germanic.

English, like the other insular Germanic languages, Icelandic and Faroese, developed independently of the continental Germanic languages and their influences. English is thus not mutually intelligible with any continental Germanic language, differing in vocabulary, syntax, and phonology, although some, such as Dutch, do show strong affinities with English, especially with its earlier stages.


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Alex E

“Maps are like campfires – everyone gathers around them, because they allow people to understand complex issues at a glance, and find agreement about how to help the land.”