Languages of Europe

Distribution of the major Indo-European branches in Europe:   Slavic,   Romance,   Germanic,   Hellenic (Greek),   Baltic,   Albanian,   Celtic.

Most languages of Europe belong to the Indo-European language family. Out of a total population of 744 million (as of 2018), some 94% are native speakers of an Indo-European language;within Indo-European, the three largest phyla are Slavic, Romance and Germanic, with more than 200 million speakers each, between them accounting for close to 90% of Europeans. Smaller phyla of Indo-European found in Europe include Hellenic (Greek, c. 10 million), Baltic (c. 7 million), Albanian (c. 5 million), Indo-Aryan (Romani, c. 1.5 million) and Celtic (including Welsh, c. 1 million).

Of c. 45 million Europeans speaking non-Indo-European languages, around 20 million each fall within the Uralic and Turkic families. Still smaller groups (such as Basque and various languages of the Caucasus) account for less than 1% of European population between them. Immigration has added sizeable communities of speakers of African and Asian languages, amounting to about 4% of the population,[1] with Arabic being the most widely spoken of them.Five languages have more than 50 million native speakers in Europe: Russian, German, French, Italian and English. While Russian has the largest number of native speakers (more than 100 million in Europe), English in Europe has the largest number of speakers in total, including some 200 million speakers of English as a second language.

Indo-European languages

The Indo-European language family is descended from Proto-Indo-European, which is believed to have been spoken thousands of years ago. Early speakers of Indo-European daughter languages most likely expanded into Europe with the incipient Bronze Age, around 4,000 years ago (Bell-Beaker culture).


Distribution of Slavic-speaking populations in Europe
  Official Slavic language used by the majority
  Significant unofficial / co-official / historical Slavic language usage
  Significant non-Slavic language usage or bilingual

Slavic languages are spoken in large areas of Central Europe, Southern Europe and Eastern Europe. An estimated 250 million Europeans are native speakers of Slavic languages, the largest groups being Russian (c. 110 million in European Russia and adjacient parts of Eastern Europe, Russian forming the largest linguistic community in Europe), Polish (c. 55 million), Ukrainian (c. 40 million), Serbo-Croatian (c. 21 million), Czech (c. 11 million), Bulgarian (c. 9 million), Slovak (c. 5 million) Belarusian and Slovene (c. 3 million each) and Macedonian (c. 2 million).

Phylogenetically, Slavic is divided into three subgroups:


Romance languages, 20th century

Roughly 225 million Europeans (primarily in Southern and Western Europe) are native speakers of Romance languages, the largest groups including French (c. 76 million), Italian (c. 65 million), Spanish (Castilian) (c. 40 million), Romanian (c. 25 million), Portuguese (c. 10 million), Sicilian (c. 5 million, also subsumed under Italian), Catalan (c. 4 million), Galician (c. 2 million), Sardinian (c. 1 million), Occitan (c. 500,000), besides numerous smaller communities.

The Romance languages are descended from varieties of Vulgar Latin spoken in the various parts of the Roman Empire in Late Antiquity. Latin was itself part of the (otherwise extinct) Italic branch of Indo-European. Romance is divided phylogenetically into Italo-Western, Eastern Romance (including Romanian) and Sardinian. The Romance-speaking area in Europe is often referred to as Latin Europe.[2]

Italo-Western in turn has the sub-branches Italo-Dalmatian (sometimes grouped with Eastern Romance), including Tuscan-derived Italian and numerous local Romance lects in Italy as well as Dalmatian, and the Western Romance languages.

The Western Romance languages in turn separate into:


The present-day distribution of the Germanic languages in Europe:
North Germanic languages
West Germanic languages
Dots indicate areas where multilingualism is common.

The Germanic languages make up the predominant language family in northwestern Europe. An estimated 200 million Europeans are native speakers of Germanic languages, the largest groups being German (c. 95 million), English (c. 65 million) and Dutch (c. 24 million), Swedish (c. 10 million), Danish (c. 6 million) and Norwegian (c. 5 million).

There are two extant major sub-divisions: West Germanic and North Germanic. A third group, East Germanic, is now extinct; the only known surviving East Germanic texts are written in the Gothic language. West Germanic is divided into Anglo-Frisian (including English), Low German and Low Franconian (including Dutch) and High German (including Standard German).

German and Low Franconian

German is spoken throughout Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the East Cantons of Belgium, much of Switzerland (including the northeast areas bordering on Germany and Austria) and northern Italy (South Tyrol).

There are several groups of German dialects:

Low German (including Low Saxon) is spoken in various regions throughout Northern Germany and the North and East of the Netherlands. It is an official language in Germany. It may be separated into Low Saxon (West Low German) and East Low German.

Dutch is spoken throughout the Netherlands, northern Belgium, as well as the Nord-Pas de Calais region of France, and around Düsseldorf in Germany. In Belgian and French contexts, Dutch is sometimes referred to as Flemish. Dutch dialects are varied and cut across national borders.


The Anglo-Frisian language family is now mostly represented by English (Anglic), descended from the Old English language spoken by the Anglo-Saxons:

The Frisian languages are spoken by about 500,000 Frisians, who live on the southern coast of the North Sea in the Netherlands and Germany. These languages include West Frisian, Saterlandic, and North Frisian.

North Germanic (Scandinavian)

The North Germanic languages are spoken in Scandinavian countries and include Danish (Denmark), Norwegian (Norway), Swedish (Sweden and parts of Finland), or Elfdalian (in a small part of central Sweden), Faroese (Faroe Islands), and Icelandic (Iceland).

English has a long history of contact with Scandinavian languages, given the immigration of Scandinavians early in the history of Britain, and has similar structure with Scandinavian languages.[3]


Distribution of the Baltic languages in the Baltic (simplified).
Other Languages
العربية: لغات أوروبا
brezhoneg: Yezhoù Europa
čeština: Jazyky v Evropě
한국어: 유럽의 언어
hrvatski: Jezici u Europi
македонски: Јазици во Европа
Nederlands: Europese talen
português: Línguas da Europa
română: Limbile Europei
српски / srpski: Језици Европе
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Jezici Evrope
中文: 欧洲语言