english_language_similarities

Which Languages Are The Closest To English?

(Last Updated On: April 7, 2021)

The humans of today are very different from each other in every aspect. But if we look at the earliest humans, they were very similar. It can be concluded that people had the same origins, but they developed different characteristics over time. The same is true for all the modern-day vernaculars. Today, English speakers may not recognize all the words in German. But there was a time when people had similar vocabularies. Even today, we can learn about the connections between different things. By finding out which is the closest language to English, we can learn about its origins and how it reached its current form. Check out the languages closest to Spanish.

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The English Language

English is a West Germanic language. It has over 400 million native speakers. It developed over 1400 years to reach its modern form. Old English was first spoken in early medieval England. It is an official language in 67 countries. Due to its popularity, many tongues have borrowed loanwords from English. The pronunciation of words and phrases is what defines different accents of English. The accents of Britain and Scotland are very different from that of the US. You can also hear multiple accents within a country, as is the case in Britain.

The English alphabet has been derived from the Latin script. There are 26 letters in the English alphabet. Old Norse, Greek, and Latin have influenced English. Other West Germanic languages have also influenced English to some extent. English words have become a part of the everyday vernacular of people all over the world. The credit for this goes to the English movies and TV shows that are popular everywhere. The English of today has many different dialects and accents. American dialects and accents are more popular in the world because of the popularity of US movies. The majority of English dialects are mutually intelligible.

What is the Closest Language to English?

Understanding the connection between different tongues is not just important for linguists but also for those who want to learn foreign languages. There are a lot of different ways to figure out the connection between different tongues. You can compare their terms of vocabulary or their grammatical structure. The forms of verbs are also important when studying different tongues. But it is almost impossible for two vernaculars to be exactly the same. Over time, every tongue develops characteristics that make it unique.

English speakers are all over the world, and they know that knowing this tongue gives them an advantage. But being bilingual or multilingual can open a lot of doors for you. However, not everyone has the time to learn difficult languages, so people look for options similar to their native tongue.

Here are the closest languages to English:

Frisian Languages

North Frisian, East Frisian, and West Frisian are the three types of tongues spoken by the Frisian people. They are spoken in the Netherlands and Germany. Although the members of the Anglo-Frisian group are not mutually intelligible with English, they do share a lot of similarities with it. In Netherlands and Germany, the Frisian tongues have been influenced by the native languages. But they are very easy to learn for English speakers.

With only 500,000 speakers, Frisian tongues are not very popular. The Frisian dialects are not dying or threatened yet. But if their separate identity is not protected, they can be at risk in the future. The fact that many people have only heard of them because of their similarity to English also does not help. But they have been officially recognized in the Friesland province of the Netherlands. Such steps by the governments of the Netherlands and Germany can help protect these languages.

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What is the Closest Language to English?

Dutch

Dutch is a tongue native to the Netherlands and Belgium. It has 29 million total speakers. Afrikaans is the mutually intelligible daughter language of Dutch. Being a member of the West Germanic family, Dutch is one of the closest relatives of English. They share a common ancestor, which makes them genetically related. Many Dutch and English words have similar spelling and pronunciation. These are known as cognates, and they have the same linguistic roots. English is also very similar to Afrikaans. This African language is spoken in multiple countries in Africa.

Both English and Dutch abandoned the case system that exists in German, Russian, and Finnish. Dutch and English share a lot of their vocabulary. Dutch has also borrowed a lot of loanwords from English. If you hear Dutch speakers talk, you will recognize many English words in their speech. The grammar of Dutch is also similar to English, which is why it is one of the easiest foreign languages to learn for English speakers.

German

German is primarily spoken in Central Europe and has 95 million native speakers. It is one of the most spoken tongues in the world. It is also one of the most common languages on the internet. Latin, Greek, French, and Modern English words have become a part of German vocabulary. Since it is spoken in multiple countries, there are dozens of German dialects.

Both German and English sound very different from each other. But due to their same language family background, they share a few similarities. English has also borrowed many loanwords from German that its speakers use in their daily lives. Many words and phrases in German and English sound similar, which can be a plus point for those trying to learn the former. The grammar rules of the two languages are also the same in most cases.

What is the Closest Language to English?

Norwegian

Norwegian is the native tongue of Norway. It is a descendant of Old Norse, the tongue spoken by the Vikings. It is mutually intelligible with Danish and Swedish. Since English also has various words of Norse origin in its vocabulary, it shares a lot of similarities with the Scandinavian languages. The Norse vocabulary also makes English similar to Swedish and Danish. The sentence structure of both English and Norwegian is the same. Even with longer phrases, Norwegian stays similar to English.

The population of Norway is fluent in English. Foreign students who want to study in Norway will not have to learn the local tongue. However, Norwegian is one of the easiest languages to study for English speakers. So, it is worth giving a chance. Who knows, maybe you will get to make new Norwegian friends by learning the native tongue?

French

All the Romance languages are easier for English speakers to learn because of the same alphabet. As an English speaker, you can master Spanish pronunciation easily. The lexical similarity between the French language and English does not just end here. Although English words have made it into French vocabulary, there are also many words of French origin in English vocabulary. However, false friends between the two can be the exceptions. When English students start studying the French language, they will notice many words that have different meanings than English, even if they are spelled the same way. These false friends can also be confusing for French speakers.

English enjoys close relationships with a lot of different vernaculars. But if you want to learn foreign languages, you will have to make an effort and take out time from your schedule. Vocabulary is not the only thing that makes up a language. You will also have to learn vowel sounds, object and subject placement in sentences, syntax, and the use of a suffix. You will have to learn speech so you can engage in conversations with the natives. Acquiring knowledge of a foreign tongue depends on how much you are willing to practice. Learners achieve language proficiency after continuous practice. If you are willing to give months and even years to the study of a tongue, you can become fluent in it.

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