Modern Germanic Languages
1. Modern Germanic languages.
2. The earliest period of Germanic history. Proto-Germanic.
3. East Germanic.
4. North Germanic.
5. West Germanic.
6. Germanic languages (table).
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Modern Germanic Languages
Languages can be classified according to different principles. The historical, or genealogical classification, groups languages in accordance with origin from a common linguistic ancestor.
Genetically, English belongs to the Germanic or Teutonic group of languages, which is one of the twelve groups of the IE linguistic family. Most of the area of Europe and large parts of other continents are occupied today by the IE languages, Germanic being one of their major groups.
The Germanic languages in the modern world are as follows:
English− in Great Britain, Ireland, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the South African Republic, and many other former British colonies and dominions;
German− in Germany, Austria, Luxemburg, Liechtenstein /'likt(ə)nstain/ and Switzerland;
'Netherlandish− in the Netherlands and Flanders (Belgium) (known also as Dutch and Flemish respectively);
Afrikaans− in the South African Republic;
Danish− in Denmark;
Swedish− in Sweden and Finland;
Norwegian −in Norway;
Icelandic− in Iceland;
Frisian− in some regions of the Netherlands and Germany;
Faroese− in the Faroe Islands;
Yiddish− in different countries.
Lists of Germanic languages given in manuals and reference-books differ in some points, for the distinction between separate languages, and also between languages and dialects varies. Until recently Dutch and Flemish were named as separate languages; Frisian and Faroese are often referred to as dialects, since they are spoken over small, politically dependent areas; the linguistic independence of Norwegian is questioned, for it has intermixed with Danish; Br E and Am E are sometimes regarded as two independent languages.
It is difficult to estimate the number of people speaking Germanic languages, especially on account of English, which in many countries is one of two languages in a bilingual community, e.g. in Canada. The estimates for English range from 250 to 300 million people who have it as their mother tongue. The total number of people speaking Germanic languages approaches 440 million. To this rough estimate we could add an indefinite number of bilingual people in the countries where English is used as an official language (over 50 countries).
All the Germanic languages are related through their common origin and joint development at the early stages of history. The survey of their external history will show where and when the Germanic languages arose and acquired their common features and also how they have developed into modern independent tongues.
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