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Language belonging to the Germanic languages branch of the Indo-European language family, widely spoken on six continents. The primary language of the U.S., Britain, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, and various Caribbean and Pacific island nations, it is also an official language of India, the Philippines, and many sub-Saharan African countries. It is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world (approximately 1.5 billion speakers), the mother tongue of more than 350 million people, and the most widely taught foreign language. English relies mainly on word order (usually subject-verb-object) to indicate relationships between words (seesyntax). Written in the Latin alphabet, it is most closely related to Frisian, German, and Dutch. Its history began with the migration of the Jutes, Angles, and Saxons from Germany and Denmark to Britain in the 5th and 6th centuries. The Norman Conquest of 1066 brought many French words into English. Greek and Latin words began to enter it in the 15th century, and Modern English is usually dated from 1500. English easily borrows words from other languages and has coined many new words to reflect advances in technology.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on English language, visit Britannica.com.
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