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The English Language



Language History:

The history of the English language really started with the arrival of three Germanic tribes who invaded Britain during the 5th century AD. These tribes, the Angles, the Saxons and the Jutes, crossed the North Sea from what today is Denmark and northern Germany. At that time the inhabitants of Britain spoke a Celtic language. But most of the Celtic speakers were pushed west and north by the invaders - mainly into what is now Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The Angles came from "Englaland" and their language was called "Englisc" - from which the words "England" and "English" are derived.

Near to the end of Middle English, a sudden and distinctive change in pronunciation (the Great Vowel Shift) started, with vowels being pronounced shorter. Following on from the Renaissance of Classical learning, many new words and phrases entered the language.

The main difference between Early Modern English and Late Modern English is vocabulary. Late Modern English has many more words, arising from two principal factors: firstly, the Industrial Revolution and technology created a need for new words; secondly, the British Empire at its height covered one quarter of the earth's surface, and the English language adopted foreign words from many other countries.



Number of people speaking English:

360 million mother-tongue speakers, 375 million second-language speakers and 750 million speakers as a foreign-language. Estimated total = 1.5 Billion speakers


Countries Spoken:

Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Canada, Fiji, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Kiribati, Liberia, Malawi, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Micronesia, Namibia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Philippines
Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles, Sierra Leone
Singapore, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, United States
Vanuatu, Zambia and Zimbabwe



Facts about English:

English is arguably the most widely spoken language in the world - speakers at basic level or higher are estimated at over a billion. It is also the language most often learnt as a foreign language – in the EU, by 90% of children. A working knowledge of English has become a requirement in a number of fields and professions and is the dominant language of business communication.

British English is the name given to the varieties of the English language as the British Isles (therefore often colloquially called "Island English") are spoken and the term British Standard English as a written language is used.

English varieties
American English Canadian English Scots
Australian English Caribbean English Singlish (Singaporean English)
British English Liberian English South African English
California English Malaysian English Tinglish (Thai-English)
Hawaiian Midatlantic English English Welsh English
Hiberno-English (Irish) New Zealand English
Hong Kong English Philippine English
Indian English Scottish English