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English Translation


English Translation


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English countries

  Regions where English is a majority native language

  Regions where English is official but not as a primary native language


Introduction of English

English belongs to the Western group of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family. It is most closely related to Low German dialects and to Dutch. English descended from the language spoken in the English Isles by the Germanic tribes, the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, who came to the British Isles around 450 AD and drove the original Celtic-speaking inhabitants to areas that are now Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, and Ireland. The dialects spoken by these invaders formed the basis of Old English, which was also strongly influenced by Old Norse, spoken by the Viking invaders of the 8th-9th centuries.

For 300 years after the Norman Conquest in 1066, the kings of England spoke only French. During this time, a large number of French words were assimilated into Old English, which also lost most of its inflections. The resulting language is known as Middle English. The most famous surviving work from Old and Middle English are Beowulf and Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.

Around 1500, the Great Vowel Shift marked the transition from Middle English to Modern English. It occurred in the 15th-18th centuries in a series of gradual steps and involved a sound change that affected the long vowels in English, known as the Great Vowel Shift.


Status

Estimates of the number of native speakers of English vary. According to Ethnologue, English has 335 million native speakers, which makes it the third largest native language in the world after Mandarin Chinese (874 million) and Spanish (406 million). Estimates of the number of second-language speakers of English vary widely as well, from 500 million to well over 1 billion.

English has a wider dispersion than any other language in the world, due to the political, economic, scientific, and cultural influence first of England, and later of the United States. Countries using English as either a first or a second language are located on all five continents, and the total population of these countries amounts to close to half of the world’s population. It is the official or national language of 52 countries, among them U.S. and its territories, U.K. and Commonwealth Countries. Click here for a complete list.

English has bred a large number of English-based creoles and pidgins. Most English-based creoles were formed in the British colonies in the 17th and 18th centuries. Today, they are spoken on the islands of the Caribbean Sea, in Africa, and on the islands of the Pacific Ocean.

English is one of the official languages of the United Nations (UN), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Organization of American States (OAS), and the European Union (EU).

As of 2013, English accounted for 55.5% of all Internet content (W3Tecs.com).

English is now the most widely studied second language in the world because a working knowledge of English is required in many fields and occupations as well as for international communication. English loanwords now appear in many languages, especially in the fields of science, technology, politics, and culture, and international terminology is dominated by English words.

More Nobel prizes in literature were awarded to writers using English than those using any other language.