English language


October 20, 2021

English (English: English, / ˈɪŋglɪʃ /) is an Indo-European language belonging to the western branch of the Germanic languages, along with Dutch, High and Low German and Frisian. It still retains an evident kinship with Continental Low German. According to some Scandinavian scholars, English, at least from its middle stage, is instead more akin to the North Germanic languages ​​(Scandinavian) than to the Continental ones. Any country or territory where English is spoken as a native language is called Anglophone. It is the most widely spoken language in the world for the number of total speakers (native and foreign) and the third for the number of total native speakers (L1) (the first is Chinese).


From the point of view of the lexicon, unlike other Germanic languages, it contains many terms of non-Germanic origin, in particular of Latin origin through a French mediation during the Norman occupation of England after 1066 (when the Dukes of Normandy conquered Anglo-Saxon England with the Battle of Hastings), but also, in the Renaissance, due to the influence of Latin in scientific jargon. For this reason, one of the most evident characteristics of the English lexicon is the number of pairs of synonyms, one of which is of Germanic origin, the other of Latin origin, to indicate the same concept, but often with different nuances, for example : freedom and liberty, pig and pork, spear and lance, first and prime, opening and opening, surname and family name. Among the widely used languages, English is probably the most open to the entry of new words of foreign origin, both because of its wide use as a world lingua franca and, probably, also thanks to the extreme simplification of grammar, characterized by the disappearance of declensions and endings of verbs and nouns (a feature that was instead present in old English).


During the twentieth century, after the Second World War, English became the lingua franca par excellence, breaking down the previous supremacy of French, which in turn had replaced Latin for diplomatic and scientific communication purposes. After the Second World War, following the achieved economic and political supremacy of the United States and the reach of the British Empire globally, English has become the most studied language in the world, as well as the most important in the economic field, a tool for the communication between ethnic groups without cultural, scientific or political connections (not without criticism). It is estimated that English as a native language (ENL) speakers are around 430 million, while around 300 million speak English as a second language (ESL). Finally, about 200 million have learned it at school (English as a foreign language, EFL), in countries where this language is not in use. The number of those who use English as a second or foreign language therefore exceeds that of those who speak it from birth. It is currently the most widely spoken language in the world and the third mother tongue behind Chinese and Spanish.

Geographic distribution

English occupies a very special position, not only with respect to the Germanic languages, but also within the Indo-European linguistic group: it has so simplified and altered its structure that it has now approached an isolating language rather than an inflected language such as it was. . English is used as a mother tongue (official or de facto) in the following countries (former English domains and colonies): in Europe in the British Isles: in the Channel Islands (together with French and its local variants) in Wales (together with Welsh) in England in Northern Ireland (together with Ulster scots and Irish Gaelic) in Ireland (together with Irish Gaelic) in the Isle of Man (together with the Gaelic m

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