English Speaking Countries

We explain which countries speak English and what characteristics this language has. In addition, we tell you the history of the English language.

English speaking countries
English is the most widely spoken language today.

What countries speak English?

English It is a European language of Germanic origin.typical of the Anglo-Saxon peoples of the north of that continent, and is the most widely spoken language today, with around 1.352 million speakers in the world, of which 373 million are native speakers. This places it in third place, after Mandarin Chinese and Spanish, among the languages ​​with the most native speakers on the planet.

The predominance of English in the world is due to the enormous economic, political, military and cultural influence that the United Kingdom of Great Britain, and later the United States, have exerted since the 18th century on the rest of the nations. This is why it is the most studied language in the world, since it is considered lingua franca or common language between nations, and is the language in which most international business is conducted today.

English is the official language of the countries that are (or were) part of the Commonwealth (commonwealth) of the British Empire, including its former American colony, the United States of America. However, and unlike other languages ​​such as Spanish, it lacks a single central authority on the language, which is why it is a language that is very prone to the incorporation of foreign words and the generation of regional variants, among which the following stand out:

  • british english
  • American or American English
  • Canadian English
  • South African English
  • Australian English
  • New Zealand English
  • Indian English
  • Caribbean English
  • Falkland Islands English

Each of these variants has, in turn, different forms and different local accents, which results in a very wide and diverse linguistic landscape.

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History of English language

english history-language
English is the result of changes from contact with numerous peoples.

Modern English comes from Old Anglo-Saxon, a language of certain Germanic tribes native to the shores of the Baltic Sea.in what we now call Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark.

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These tribes were composed of the Angles, the Saxons, the Jutes, and the Frisians, and together they migrated to the islands of present-day Great Britain around the 5th century. There they faced the Celtic peoples traditionally established in the region, such as the Britons and the Picts, many of whom had successfully resisted the invasions of the Roman Empire.

The language of the Germanic invaders soon prevailed over the local Celtic language, and four ancient dialects flourished, known as Mercian, Northumbrian, Kentic, and West Saxon. Each was the language of one of the Germanic kingdoms established in the region, but the last, West Saxon, gained greater predominance over the rest, and was spoken until around the 12th or 13th century..

This “Old English,” however, suffered a strong influence from the Nordic languages ​​(norse) that the Viking peoples brought with them during the invasions of the 8th and 9th centuries. These peoples colonized north-eastern Great Britain and were eventually incorporated into the fledgling British nation.

The same thing happened with the language spoken by the Norman conquerors of the 11th century., including Bretons and Flemings. A much smaller role, but one that cannot be ruled out, was played by the surviving Celtic languages ​​in some regions of Scotland, Wales and Cornwall.

From the 11th century and the Norman invasion, English was strongly influenced by the langue d’oil of the invaders, a Romance language forerunner of French, and gave rise to Anglo-Norman, a kind of lingua franca that contributed to the formation of the so-called Middle English. The latter is a difficult language to delimit and understand, since it was subject to rapid and violent changes, typical of the strong linguistic variety of the time.

Until, in the late 14th century, a literate, literate variant of London English made its way through the rise of a national bureaucracy and to the nationalism aroused by the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453) between England and France, which revived English as a patriotic language. This London variant, known as the “Chancery Standard” (Chancery Standard) soon became the learned norm of the day and allowed for the development of a Renaissance variant of English.

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Thus, between the 16th and 18th centuries, the use of Early Modern English (Early Modern English), to which numerous Latin and Greek words were incorporated. This was the language extensively cultivated by William Shakespeare and in which The first English dictionary was published in 1604. Table Alphabetical.

but just in 1755when Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) published his dictionary of modern English, entitled A Dictionary of the English Language (“A Dictionary of the English Language”), the properly modern Anglo-Saxon language came on the scene.

Since then, English has become the language of the Industrial Revolution, and it quickly extended its influence throughout the world, thanks to the British colonial Empire. Throughout its modern history, English vied with French and Spanish for the status of language of international predominance, something it would achieve after World War II, when the United States came to occupy the place of the central power of the West.

Features of English

Broadly speaking, the English language is characterized by the following:

  • It is an Indo-European and Western languagefrom the family of Germanic languages, associated with the Anglo-Saxon peoples of northern Europe.
  • Its name comes from the main of the Germanic peoples who invaded and colonized Great Britain around the 5th century: the Angles.who called their language english and their newly acquired lands England (England).
  • It has numerous dialects and regional variants, the result of its enormous expansion during the British colonial times. In addition, due to its historical journey, it has an extremely extensive lexicon: the Oxford Dictionary contains more than 250,000 different words to its credit.
  • It has 25 letters in its alphabet. (some variants can reach 27) and a relatively simple grammar, with many features shared with the Romance languages, and at the same time much simpler aspects, such as the absence of gender and case in the words.
  • His lexicon is composed mostly of Old English, French, Latin, and Old Norse words.

English speaking countries

English speaking countries map
English is the official language of many nations, including former English colonies.

English is considered the official language of many nations, including former English colonies and other territories belonging to the commonwealth British. In addition, it is the language with the most instrumental speakers in the world, spoken by a minority in dozens of different countries.

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Country % of English speakers Total number of English speakers language status
United Kingdom 97.3% 65,400,000 inhab. Official language
Ireland 98.4% 4,915,000 inhab. co-official language
USA 82.1% 270,506,000 inhab. Official language
Australia 76.8% 19,728,000 inhab. Official language
Canada 58.7% 22,309,000 inhab. co-official language
South Africa 9.6% 5,694,000 inhab. co-official language
New Zealand 72.6% 3,691,000 inhab. co-official language
Falkland Islands 89% 3,000 inhab. Official language
Trinidad and Tobago 93.5% 1,309,000 inhab. Official language
Gibraltar 88.9% 30,000 inhab. Official language
Nigeria 53% 79,000,000 inhab. co-official language
India 12% 125,344,736 inhab. co-official language
Philippines 52% 43,994,000 inhab. co-official language
Pakistan 49% 88,690,000 inhab. co-official language
Jamaica 46.6% 200,000 inhab. Official language
guyana 90.5% 707,903 inhab. Official language
belize 62.9% 7,946 inhab. Official language
Cook Islands 42.7% 4,000 inhab. co-official language

On the other hand, English is the main language of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Jersey, Grenada, Guam, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Montserrat, Nauru, Islands Pitcairn, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Singapore, Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands, among other nations.

Why is it important to speak English today?

Since the mid-20th century, the English language has consolidated its importance as a global language. This means that It is a language spoken practically all over the world, which is why it is the preferred language when doing tourism, business or agreements between people of very different nationalities.

Consequently, it is known as the “language of business” or as the “language of the world”, and it has become the most studied language on the planet. All this highlights the importance of knowing it, even in a rudimentary way.

Continue with: Countries that speak Portuguese

References

  • “English language” on Wikipedia.
  • “History of the English Language” on Wikipedia.
  • “The English language and its importance today” at CAISA, Language Center (Colombia).
  • “English language” in The Encyclopaedia Britannica.