Sub-branch of the Indo-European (IE) language
Top 10 Germanic languages related articles
- 1 Modern status
- 2 History
- 3 Distinctive characteristics
- 4 Linguistic developments
- 5 Common linguistic features
- 6 Classification
- 7 Writing
- 8 Vocabulary comparison
- 9 See also
- 10 Footnotes
- 11 Notes
- 12 Sources
- 13 Further reading
- 14 External links
|Worldwide, principally Northern, Western and Central Europe, the Americas (Anglo-America, Caribbean Netherlands and Suriname), Southern Africa, and Oceania|
|ISO 639-2 / 5||gem|
World map showing countries where a Germanic language is the primary or official language
Countries where the first language of the majority of the population is a Germanic language
Countries or regions where a Germanic language is an official language but not a primary language
Countries or regions where a Germanic language has no official status but is notable, i.e. used in some areas of life and or spoken among a local minority
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The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family spoken natively by a population of about 515 million people[nb 1] mainly in Europe, North America, Oceania and Southern Africa. The most widely spoken Germanic language, English, is the world's most widely spoken language with an estimated 2 billion speakers. All Germanic languages are derived from Proto-Germanic, spoken in Iron Age Scandinavia.
The West Germanic languages include the three most widely spoken Germanic languages: English with around 360–400 million native speakers;[nb 2] German, with over 100 million native speakers; and Dutch, with 24 million native speakers. Other West Germanic languages include Afrikaans, an offshoot of Dutch, with over 7.1 million native speakers; Low German, considered a separate collection of unstandardized dialects, with roughly 4.35-7.15 million native speakers and probably 6.7–10 million people who can understand it (at least 2,2 million in Germany (2016) and 2.15 million in the Netherlands (2003)); Yiddish, once used by approximately 13 million Jews in pre-World War II Europe, now with approximately 1.5 million native speakers; Scots, with 1.5 million native speakers; Limburgish varieties with roughly 1.3 million speakers along the Dutch–Belgian–German border; and the Frisian languages with over 0.5 million native speakers in the Netherlands and Germany.
The largest North Germanic languages are Swedish, Danish and Norwegian, which are in part mutually intelligible and have a combined total of about 20 million native speakers in the Nordic countries and an additional five million second language speakers; since the Middle Ages these languages have however been strongly influenced by the West Germanic language Middle Low German, and Low German words account for about 30–60% of their vocabularies according to various estimates. Other North Germanic languages are Faroese and Icelandic, which are more conservative languages with no significant Low German influence, more complex grammar and limited mutual intelligibility with the others today.
The East Germanic branch included Gothic, Burgundian, and Vandalic, all of which are now extinct. The last to die off was Crimean Gothic, spoken until the late 18th century in some isolated areas of Crimea.
The SIL Ethnologue lists 48 different living Germanic languages, 41 of which belong to the Western branch and six to the Northern branch; it places Riograndenser Hunsrückisch German in neither of the categories, but it is often considered a German dialect by linguists. The total number of Germanic languages throughout history is unknown as some of them, especially the East Germanic languages, disappeared during or after the Migration Period. Some of the West Germanic languages also did not survive past the Migration Period, including Lombardic. As a result of World War II and subsequent mass expulsion of Germans, the German language suffered a significant loss of Sprachraum, as well as moribundity and extinction of several of its dialects. In the 21st century, its dialects are dying out[nb 3] due to Standard German gaining primacy.
The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic, also known as Common Germanic, which was spoken in about the middle of the 1st millennium BC in Iron Age Scandinavia. Proto-Germanic, along with all of its descendants, notably has a number of unique linguistic features, most famously the consonant change known as "Grimm's law." Early varieties of Germanic entered history when the Germanic tribes moved south from Scandinavia in the 2nd century BC to settle in the area of today's northern Germany and southern Denmark.
Germanic languages Intro articles: 182
West Germanic languages
English is an official language of Belize, Canada, Nigeria, Falkland Islands, Malta, New Zealand, Ireland, South Africa, Philippines, Jamaica, Dominica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, American Samoa, Palau, St. Lucia, Grenada, Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Puerto Rico, Guam, Hong Kong, Singapore, Pakistan, India, Papua New Guinea, Namibia, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and former British colonies in Asia, Africa and Oceania. Furthermore, it is the de facto language of the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia, as well as a recognized language in Nicaragua and Malaysia. American English-speakers make up the majority of all native Germanic speakers, including also making up the bulk of West Germanic speakers.
German is a language of Austria, Belgium, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Switzerland and has regional status in Italy, Poland, Namibia and Denmark. German also continues to be spoken as a minority language by immigrant communities in North America, South America, Central America, Mexico and Australia. A German dialect, Pennsylvania German, is still used among various populations in the American state of Pennsylvania in daily life.
Dutch is an official language of Aruba, Belgium, Curaçao, the Netherlands, Sint Maarten, and Suriname. The Netherlands also colonized Indonesia, but Dutch was scrapped as an official language after Indonesian independence. Today, it is only used by older or traditionally educated people. Dutch was until 1984 an official language in South Africa but evolved in and was replaced by Afrikaans, a partially mutually intelligible daughter language of Dutch.
Low German is a collection of very diverse dialects spoken in the northeast of the Netherlands and northern Germany.
Frisian is spoken among half a million people who live on the southern fringes of the North Sea in the Netherlands and Germany.
Luxembourgish is a Moselle Franconian dialect that is spoken mainly in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, where it is considered to be an official language. Similar varieties of Moselle Franconian are spoken in small parts of Belgium, France, and Germany.
Yiddish, once a native language of some 11 to 13 million people, remains in use by some 1.5 million speakers in Jewish communities around the world, mainly in North America, Europe, Israel, and other regions with Jewish populations.
North Germanic languages
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In addition to being the official language in Sweden, Swedish is also spoken natively by the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland, which is a large part of the population along the coast of western and southern Finland. Swedish is also one of the two official languages in Finland, along with Finnish, and the only official language in the Åland Islands. Swedish is also spoken by some people in Estonia.
Danish is an official language of Denmark and in its overseas territory of the Faroe Islands, and it is a lingua franca and language of education in its other overseas territory of Greenland, where it was one of the official languages until 2009. Danish, a locally recognized minority language, is also natively spoken by the Danish minority in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein.
Norwegian is the official language of Norway. Norwegian is also the official language in the overseas territories of Norway such as Svalbard, Jan Mayen, Bouvet island, Queen Maud Land and Peter 1 island
|Language||Native speakers[nb 5]|
|German (Deutsch)||100[nb 6]|
|Low German (Platt(düütsch)/Neddersassch/Nedersaksisch)||4.35-7.15|
|Other Germanic languages||0.01[nb 7]|
|Total||est. 515[nb 8]|