Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Cameroon, Canada, Cook Islands, Dominica, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, India, Ireland, Jamaica, Kenya, New Zealand, Nigeria, Philippines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, United States
Radiating far beyond the lands of northwest Europe where it originated, the English language now counts 400 million native speakers, 400 million L2 speakers, and a similar number of people who study it as a foreign language. Only two other languages, Chinese and Spanish, have more speakers.
The State of English
The most commonly used vocabulary today is of Anglo-Saxon (Old/Middle English), old Norse (Scandinavian), or Dutch provenance. From the articles we use to the basic commodities of life, most words have a Germanic basis. Dutch and Frisian, a regional language of the Netherlands, are to this day the languages most closely related to English in terms of basic structure and vocabulary.
The impact of the Scandinavian languages on English has also been significant. The Viking invasions left their mark on the inhabitants of the British Isles, who for the most part abandoned cases (which are still present in German) over the centuries to ease communication among the many peoples inhabiting the land of Albion.
As of the 11th century, Anglo-Norman French impacted the language of the Anglo-Saxons and altered its very structure and being for ever after. Countless new registers and an expanded vocabulary (29% of words today are of French origin, with another 29% of Latin origin, often arriving through French) entered the language, giving it greater versatility, nuance, and power. Art, governance, literature, science, religion, and philosophy all benefitted from this infusion of life from the continent. Today, the overwhelming majority of terms in academic, legal, and scientific texts are of French and Latin origin.
Whether it’s business, economics, or law, agriculture or science, medicine, the arts, or higher pursuits of the mind and spirit – whatever the realm of human activity, English has the words for it.
Spectrum Translation has specialized in English – or the English languages, as some would have it – since 2004. We have translated and localized for the US, the UK, Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
We welcome your queries regarding successful translation, proofreading, and editing in this important world language of commerce, history, and culture.