The study of languages is intriguing. The planet is home to hundreds, if not thousands, of different languages. There are the most often used ones, such as Mandarin Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, and English, and there are also the really rare ones. There are extinct languages. Others have changed into languages that are currently in use and have little in common with the original. The marvellous way that language develops and becomes more useful for speaking, reading, writing, and communicating is what makes it so beautiful. Among the most widely spoken languages in the world today are those that are Germanic. Let’s investigate the modern 14+ Germanic languages.
English originated in mediaeval England and was brought to what is now Great Britain by the ancient Germanic people known as the Angles. The third most spoken native language worldwide is English, which is also the most spoken language overall. One of the second languages spoken worldwide is English. It is the primary language in several other nations and the official language in 59 more. English is also regarded as the de facto language in a number of fields, such as international trade, science, entertainment, and tourism.
Globally, there are about 100 million native German speakers. Among the native languages most commonly spoken in the European Union is German. In the European continent, teaching foreign languages is also a common practice. Old High German was the language’s ancestor before evolving into the contemporary German spoken by the German people. The West Germanic branch of the Germanic languages is where the current German language originates.
The Germanic languages belong to the Western Branch, which includes Dutch. Old Dutch and Old English both had similar beginnings, and eventually Old Dutch gave rise to modern Dutch. Many languages, such as Afrikaans, are descended from Modern Dutch. The Netherlands, Belgium, Suriname, and French Flanders are the original speakers of this language. From Dutch, which is spoken in many parts of the world, various dialects have developed.
Speaking mostly in Sweden and certain areas of Finland, Swedish is a language belonging to the Germanic language family’s north Germanic branch. Old Norse, the language spoken in Scandinavia by Germanic people, or Vikings, is the ancestor of contemporary Swedish. Moreover, the many Swedish dialects of the 19th century gave rise to the present Swedish spoken by Swedes. Some of the regional dialects still exist today, but they are disappearing quickly.
The majority of Afrikaans speakers are found in Namibia, South Africa, and a few other African nations. Despite deriving from Dutch, it is regarded as a West Germanic language. Although certain vocabulary in Afrikaans were borrowed from German or the Khoisan language, it is estimated that 90–95% of the language is Dutch. Native speakers of Afrikaans make up about 13% of South Africans.
Though mostly spoken in Denmark, Danish is also spoken in Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and even Southern Schleswig, a northern German province. Danish belongs to the Germanic language family’s North Germanic branch. Additionally, it is a direct descendent of Old Norse, the language spoken in Scandinavia by the Vikings. Danish dialects were spoken in the past, but they have now vanished.
Norwegian is mostly spoken in Norway and is a language belonging to the Germanic language family’s north Germanic branch. It also comes from Old Norse, the Viking language spoken in Scandinavia, since it is a Scandinavian language. Bokmål and Nynorsk are the two written varieties of Norwegian that are currently in official use, despite the fact that there is only one standard spoken language in Norway.
Low German is closely related to both English and Frisian, as it originates from the West Germanic branch of the Germanic language family. These languages also belong to the Germanic North Sea language family. It is still spoken in the northeastern Netherlands and northern Germany today. Low German-speaking Russian Mennonites also make up a portion of the population.
Spoken primarily by Ashkenazi Jews, Yiddish is a language belonging to the West Germanic branch of the Germanic languages. It came from Central Europe around the ninth century. Yiddish was spoken by around 11 million individuals prior to World War II. Approximately 85% of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust were Yiddish speakers.
The Anglic language of Scots originates from the West Germanic language family. In addition to various locations in northern Ireland, it is spoken in Scotland. The Lowlands of Scotland are home to a large Scots-speaking population. As a result, Scots and Scottish Gaelic—which belongs to the Gaelic family of languages—should not be confused. Scots is considered a vulnerable language by UNESCO and is recognised as such by the Scottish government as an indigenous language of Scotland.
The Western Branch of the Germanic languages gives rise to a number of Frisian languages. The Frisian languages and Anglic languages—like English, for instance—are fairly similar. There are three branches of the Frisian languages: North Frisian, spoken in Schleswig-Holstein; East Frisian, spoken in Saterland, Germany; and West Frisian, the most widely spoken branch, mostly spoken in the Friesland region of The Netherlands.
The West Germanic branch of the Germanic language family includes Luxembourgish. Although it is the primary language in Luxembourg, English is quickly gaining traction. Luxembourgish is closely connected to the High German dialects and is also a Moselle Franconian language. The dialect of Transylvanian Saxon spoken in central Romania is likewise comparable to the language.
Icelandic, a language belonging to the Germanic languages’ North Germanic branch, is primarily spoken in Iceland. Being a West Scandinavian language, it shares many similarities with Faroese and is the national tongue of the nation. It is not mutually intelligible with other Scandinavian languages such as Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian, despite being a West Scandinavian language.
The Germanic languages belong to the North Germanic branch, which includes Faroese. It is mostly spoken in the Faroe Islands, where it is the official language, and to some extent in Denmark’s mainland. Spoken in Scandinavia, Faroese is a language descended from the Old Norse languages.
Additional Minor Languages
A few dialects or minor languages are descended from the old Germanic language. For instance, a variety of people in Pennsylvania speak Pennsylvania Dutch. Many German dialects, including Alsatian in the French province of Alsace, are spoken throughout Europe. Lastly, the Dutch-Belgian-German border region has a Limburgish diversity of languages spoken there.
These are the fourteen or more Germanic languages that are still spoken today. These languages have withstood centuries of word additions, reorganisations, and other changes. The dialects or languages that perished along with the population were those that were not preserved. In terms of languages, that is a fact. However, the Germanic languages that are currently in use will endure for a very long time.