English language

English
Pronunciationʃ/[1]
RegionWorldwide
Native speakers
360–400 million[2]
L2 speakers: 400 million;
as a foreign language: 600–700 million[2]
Indo-European
Early forms
Old English
Signed forms
Manually coded English
(multiple systems)
Official status
Official language in
  • 67 countries
  • 27 non-sovereign entities
Language codes
en
eng
ISO 639-3eng
stan1293[3]
Linguasphere52-ABA
Anglospeak.svg
     Countries of the world where English is a majority native language     Countries where English is official but not a majority native language
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EN language code (ISO 639-1)

English is a West Germanic language that was first spoken in Anglo-Saxon England in the early Middle Ages. It is now the third most widely used language in the world, behind Mandarin, Hindi and Spanish.[4]

It is spoken in many countries around the world. Anglophone countries include the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and a number of Caribbean nations. There are about 375 million native speakers (people who use English as their first language),[5] which is the largest after Mandarin and Spanish. About 220 million more people use it as their second language. It is often used in work and travel, and there are at least a billion people who are learning it. This makes English the second most spoken language, and the most international language in the world.

English has changed and developed over time.[6] The most obvious changes are the many words taken from Latin and French. English grammar has also become very different from other Germanic languages, without becoming much like Romance languages. Because nearly 60% of the vocabulary comes from Latin, English is sometimes called the most Latin of the Germanic languages, and is often mistaken for being a Romance language.[7]

History

As its name suggests, the English language began in England. Germanic tribes (Saxons, Angles, and Jutes) came to Britain from around 449 AD. They made their home in the south and east of the island, pushing out the Celtic Britons who were there before them, or making them speak the English language instead of the old Celtic languages. Some people still speak Celtic languages today, in Wales (Welsh) and elsewhere. Gaelic is the Scottish Celtic language, still spoken by some in the Scottish Highlands and Islands. "Scots" is a dialect of English (although some call it a separate language). Irish Gaelic is spoken by very few people today.

The Germanic dialects of these different tribes became what is now called Old English. The word "English" comes from the name of the Angles: Englas. Old English did not sound or look much like the English spoken today. If English speakers today were to hear or read a passage in Old English, they would understand just a few words.

The closest language to English that is still used today is Frisian, spoken by about 500,000 people living in the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. It is much like English, and many words are the same. The two languages were even closer before Old English changed to Middle English). Today, speakers of the two languages would not be able to understand each other. Dutch is spoken by over 20 million people, and is more distant from English. German is even bigger, and even more distant. All these languages belong to the same West Germanic family as English.

Many other people came to England later at different times, speaking different languages, and these languages added more words to make today's English. For example, around 800 AD, many Danish and Norse pirates, also called Vikings, came to the country, established Danelaw. So, English got many Norse loanwords. Their languages were Germanic languages, like Old English, but are a little different. They are called the North Germanic languages.

When William the Conqueror took over England in 1066 AD, he brought his nobles, who spoke Norman, a language closely related to French. English changed a lot because it was mostly being spoken instead of written for about 300 years, because all official documents were written in Norman French. English borrowed many words from Norman at that time, and also began to drop the old word endings. English of this time is called Middle English. Geoffrey Chaucer is a well known writer of Middle English. After more sound changes, Middle English became Modern English.

English continued to take new words from other languages, for example mainly from French (around 30% to 40% of its words), but also Chinese, Hindi and Urdu, Japanese, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, etc. Because scientists from different countries needed to talk to one another, they chose names for scientific things in the languages they all knew: Greek and Latin. Those words came to English also, for example, photography ("photo-" means "light" "and "-graph " means "picture" or "writing", in Greek.[8] A photograph is a picture made using light), or telephone. So, English is made of Old English, Danish, Norse, and French, and has been changed by Latin, Greek, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Dutch and Spanish, and some words from other languages.

English grammar has also changed, becoming simpler and less Germanic. The classic example is the loss of case in grammar. Grammatical case shows the role of a noun, adjective or pronoun in a sentence. In Latin (and other Indo-European languages) this is done by adding suffixes, but English usually does not. The style of English is that meaning is made clear more by context and syntax.

The history of the British Empire has added to the spread of English. English is an important language in many places today. In Australia, Canada, India, Pakistan, South Africa, and the United States, among others (like those in the Commonwealth of Nations), English is the main language. Because the United Kingdom (the country where England is) and the United States have historically been powerful in commerce and government, many people find it helpful to learn English to communicate in science, business, and diplomacy. This is called learning English as an additional language, English as a Second Language (ESL) or English as a Foreign Language (EFL).

English literature has many famous stories and plays. William Shakespeare was a famous English writer of poems and plays. His English is Early Modern English, and not quite like what people speak or write today. Early Modern English sounded different, partly because the language was beginning a "great vowel shift". Later, many short stories and novels also used English. The novel as we know it is first seen in 18th century English.[9] Today, many famous songs and movies (cinema films) use the English language.

Other Languages
Адыгэбзэ: Инджылыбзэ
адыгабзэ: Инджылызыбзэ
Afrikaans: Engels
Akan: English
Alemannisch: Englische Sprache
አማርኛ: እንግሊዝኛ
العربية: لغة إنجليزية
aragonés: Idioma anglés
armãneashti: Limba anglicheascã
arpetan: Anglès
অসমীয়া: ইংৰাজী ভাষা
asturianu: Idioma inglés
Avañe'ẽ: Ingleñe'ẽ
Aymar aru: Inlish aru
azərbaycanca: İngilis dili
bamanankan: Angilɛkan
Bahasa Banjar: Bahasa Inggris
Bân-lâm-gú: Eng-gí
Basa Banyumasan: Basa Inggris
башҡортса: Инглиз теле
беларуская: Англійская мова
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Ангельская мова
भोजपुरी: अंगरेजी
Bikol Central: Ingles
български: Английски език
bosanski: Engleski jezik
brezhoneg: Saozneg
буряад: Англи хэлэн
català: Anglès
Cebuano: Iningles
čeština: Angličtina
Chavacano de Zamboanga: Lengua Inglés
Chi-Chewa: Chingerezi
chiShona: Chirungu
Cymraeg: Saesneg
davvisámegiella: Eaŋgalsgiella
ދިވެހިބަސް: އިނގިރޭސި
Diné bizaad: Bilagáana bizaad
dolnoserbski: Engelšćina
Ελληνικά: Αγγλική γλώσσα
emiliàn e rumagnòl: Inglés
español: Idioma inglés
Esperanto: Angla lingvo
estremeñu: Luenga ingresa
euskara: Ingeles
eʋegbe: Eŋlisigbe
Fiji Hindi: English bhasa
føroyskt: Enskt mál
français: Anglais
Frysk: Ingelsk
Gaeilge: An Béarla
Gaelg: Baarle
Gàidhlig: Beurla
ГӀалгӀай: Ингалсий мотт
贛語: 英語
गोंयची कोंकणी / Gõychi Konknni: Inglez
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Yîn-ngî
한국어: 영어
Hausa: Turanci
հայերեն: Անգլերեն
hornjoserbsce: Jendźelšćina
hrvatski: Engleski jezik
বিষ্ণুপ্রিয়া মণিপুরী: ইংরেজি ঠার
Bahasa Indonesia: Bahasa Inggris
interlingua: Lingua anglese
Interlingue: Anglesi
ᐃᓄᒃᑎᑐᑦ/inuktitut: ᖃᓪᓗᓈᑎᑐᑦ
isiXhosa: IsiNgesi
isiZulu: IsiNgisi
íslenska: Enska
italiano: Lingua inglese
עברית: אנגלית
Basa Jawa: Basa Inggris
kalaallisut: Tuluttut
ಕನ್ನಡ: ಆಂಗ್ಲ
Kapampangan: Amanung Ingles
къарачай-малкъар: Ингилиз тил
कॉशुर / کٲشُر: اَنٖگرَیزی زَبانَ
kaszëbsczi: Anielsczi jãzëk
қазақша: Ағылшын тілі
kernowek: Sowsnek
Kinyarwanda: Icyongereza
Kiswahili: Kiingereza
Kongo: Kingelezi
Kreyòl ayisyen: Lang angle
Кыргызча: Англис тили
кырык мары: Англ йӹлмӹ
لۊری شومالی: زۊن اینگیلیسی
latviešu: Angļu valoda
Lëtzebuergesch: Englesch
lietuvių: Anglų kalba
Limburgs: Ingels
lingála: Lingɛlɛ́sa
Lingua Franca Nova: Engles (lingua)
la .lojban.: glibau
lumbaart: Lengua inglesa
magyar: Angol nyelv
македонски: Англиски јазик
Malagasy: Fiteny anglisy
Māori: Reo Pākehā
მარგალური: ინგლისური ნინა
مصرى: انجليزى
مازِرونی: اینگلیسی زبون
Bahasa Melayu: Bahasa Inggeris
Baso Minangkabau: Bahaso Inggirih
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Ĭng-ngṳ̄
Mirandés: Léngua anglesa
мокшень: Англань кяль
монгол: Англи хэл
Dorerin Naoero: Dorerin Iburubur
Nederlands: Engels
Nedersaksies: Engels
Nēhiyawēwin / ᓀᐦᐃᔭᐍᐏᐣ: ᐧᐁᒥᔥᑎᑯᔒᐤ ᐊᔨᒧᐧᐃᓐ
नेपाल भाषा: अंग्रेजी भाषा
日本語: 英語
Napulitano: Lengua ngrese
Nordfriisk: Ingelsk spriak
Norfuk / Pitkern: Inglish
norsk: Engelsk
norsk nynorsk: Engelsk
Nouormand: Angliais
Novial: Anglum
occitan: Anglés
олык марий: Англичан йылме
Oshiwambo: English
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Ingliz tili
Pangasinan: Salitan Ingles
پنجابی: انگریزی
Papiamentu: Ingles
Patois: Ingglish
Перем Коми: Инглиш кыв
ភាសាខ្មែរ: ភាសាអង់គ្លេស
Picard: Inglé
Piemontèis: Lenga anglèisa
Tok Pisin: Tokples Inglis
Plattdüütsch: Engelsche Spraak
português: Língua inglesa
Qaraqalpaqsha: Ingliz tili
qırımtatarca: İngliz tili
reo tahiti: Anglès
Ripoarisch: Änglische Sproch
română: Limba engleză
rumantsch: Lingua englaisa
Runa Simi: Inlish simi
русиньскый: Анґліцькый язык
саха тыла: Ааҥыл тыла
ᱥᱟᱱᱛᱟᱲᱤ: ᱤᱝᱞᱤᱥ ᱯᱟᱹᱨᱥᱤ
Gagana Samoa: Fa'aperetania
संस्कृतम्: आङ्ग्लभाषा
Sängö: Anglëe
Sesotho: Senyesemane
Sesotho sa Leboa: Seisimane
Setswana: Sekgoga
sicilianu: Lingua ngrisa
SiSwati: SíNgísi
slovenčina: Angličtina
slovenščina: Angleščina
словѣньскъ / ⰔⰎⰑⰂⰡⰐⰠⰔⰍⰟ: Англїискъ ѩꙁꙑкъ
ślůnski: Angelsko godka
Soomaaliga: Af-Ingiriisi
Sranantongo: Ingristongo
српски / srpski: Енглески језик
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Engleski jezik
Basa Sunda: Basa Inggris
svenska: Engelska
Tagalog: Wikang Ingles
தமிழ்: ஆங்கிலம்
Taqbaylit: Taglizit
tarandíne: Lènga 'nglese
татарча/tatarça: Инглиз теле
తెలుగు: ఆంగ్ల భాష
Tshivenda: English
Türkçe: İngilizce
Türkmençe: Iňlis dili
Twi: English
тыва дыл: Англи дыл
удмурт: Англи кыл
ᨅᨔ ᨕᨘᨁᨗ: ᨅᨔ ᨕᨗᨋᨗᨔᨗ
українська: Англійська мова
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: ئىنگلىز تىلى
Vahcuengh: Vah Yinghgoz
vepsän kel’: Anglijan kel'
Tiếng Việt: Tiếng Anh
Volapük: Linglänapük
文言: 英語
West-Vlams: Iengels
Winaray: Ininglis
吴语: 英语
Xitsonga: Xinghezi
ייִדיש: ענגליש
粵語: 英文
Zazaki: İngılızki
Zeêuws: Iengels
žemaitėška: Onglu kalba
中文: 英语