Germanic-speaking Europe

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Distribution of the Germanic languages in Europe:
West Germanic languages
  German
  Dutch
  Scots
North Germanic languages
  Danish
Dots indicate areas where multilingualism is common.

Germanic-speaking Europe refers to the area of Europe that today uses a Germanic language. Over 200 million Europeans (some 30%) speak a Germanic language natively. At the same time 515 million speak a Germanic language natively in the whole world (6.87%).

Speakers[edit]

Countries[edit]

Independent European countries whose population are predominantly native speakers of a Germanic language:

Countries without officially recognised minority Countries with an officially recognised non-Germanic minority Countries with a Germanic minority

West Germanic[edit]

German[edit]

German is the sole official language in Germany, Austria, and Liechtenstein, and is a co-official language in Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the European Union. Several other countries, including Denmark, Hungary, Italy, and Poland, have German as a national minority language.

English[edit]

English is a West Germanic language originating in England, and the first language for most people in Australia, Canada, the Commonwealth Caribbean, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, South Africa and the United States.

One of the consequences of the French influence due to the Norman Conquest in the Middle Ages is that the vocabulary of the English language contains a massive number of non-Germanic words, i.e., Latin-derived words that entered the lexicon after the invasion.

English vocabulary is, to an extent divided between Germanic words (mostly Old English) and "Latinate" words (Latin-derived, directly from Norman French or other Romance languages). For instance, pairs of words such as ask and question (the first verb being Germanic and the second Latinate) show the division between Germanic and Latinate lexemes that compose Modern English vocabulary. The structure of the English language, however, has remained unequivocally Germanic.

Dutch[edit]

In Europe, Dutch is spoken in the Netherlands (≈96%) and Flanders, the northern part of Belgium (≈59%). In French Flanders, in northern France, some of the older generation still speaks the local Dutch dialect. Outside Europe, Dutch is official in Suriname, Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles. In Indonesia, Dutch is spoken by the Indo people. Afrikaans, the third most spoken language in South Africa, in terms of native speakers (≈13.3%), and the most widely understood in Namibia, evolved from Dutch and was standardised in the early 20th century. Both languages are still largely mutually intelligible.

Frisian[edit]

The Frisian languages are a closely related group of Germanic languages, spoken by about half a million members of Frisian ethnic groups, who live on the southern fringes of the North Sea in the Netherlands and Germany. They are the continental Germanic languages most closely related to English.

North Germanic[edit]

Approximately 20 million people in the Nordic countries have a North Germanic language as their mother tongue,[1] including a significant Swedish minority in Finland.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Holmberg, Anders and Christer Platzack (2005). "The Scandinavian languages". In The Comparative Syntax Handbook, eds Guglielmo Cinque and Richard S. Kayne. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. Excerpt at Durham University Archived 2007-12-03 at the Wayback Machine..