English language

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
English ( Deutsch )

Spoken in

United StatesUnited States United States United Kingdom , Canada , Australia , New Zealand , Ireland , and (as a second language) in over 50 other countries worldwide
United KingdomUnited Kingdom 
New ZealandNew Zealand 
speaker around 340 million native speakers ,
with second language speakers estimated at 510 million to 1.75 billion speakers
Official status
Official language in See: official language
Language codes
ISO 639 -1


ISO 639 -2


ISO 639-3


The English language (own name: English [ ɪŋɡlɪʃ ]) is an original in England -based Germanic language that the West Germanic branch belongs. It developed from the early Middle Ages through the immigration of North Sea Germanic peoples to Britain, including the Angles  - from which the word English is derived - and the Saxons . The early forms of the language are therefore sometimes called Anglo-Saxon .

The most closely related living languages ​​are the Frisian languages and Low German on the mainland. In the course of its history, however, English has developed strong special developments: In terms of sentence structure , English, in contrast to all West Germanic relatives on the continent, switched to a subject-verb-object scheme and lost the verb second property . The formation of word forms ( inflection ) in nouns, articles, verbs and adjectives has been greatly reduced. In terms of vocabulary, English was first influenced in an early phase by language contact with North Germanic languages , which resulted from the temporary occupation by Danes and Norwegians in the 9th century. Later there was another strong impact through contact with French due to the Norman conquest of England in 1066 . Due to the diverse influences from West Germanic and North Germanic languages, French and the classical languages , today's English has an extraordinarily extensive vocabulary.

The English language is written using the Latin alphabet . A significant fixation of the spelling took place with the advent of the printing press in the 15th and 16th centuries. Century, despite the simultaneous continuous change of sound . The current spelling of English therefore represents a strong historical orthography that deviates in many ways from the representation of the actual sound shape.

Starting from its place of origin England, English spread over the entire British Isles and gradually displaced the v. a. Celtic languages, which today only form small speaking communities in the middle of the English-speaking area. In its further history, English has become a world language , mainly as a result of the colonization of America and the colonial policy of Great Britain in Australia, Africa and India , which is now (globally) more widely spoken than any other language (the language with the largest number of native speakers but Mandarin Chinese ). English-speaking countries and areas or their inhabitants are also called anglophones .

English is taught as the first foreign language in schools in many countries and is the official language of most international organizations , with many using other official languages ​​as well. In West Germany, the federal states agreed in the 1955 Düsseldorf Agreement to introduce English as a general compulsory foreign language in schools.

The English speaking world

Today around 330 million people around the world speak English as their mother tongue . Estimates of the number of second language speakers vary greatly depending on the source, as different degrees of language comprehension are used. Here you can find numbers from under 200 million to over 1 billion people.

Geographical distribution

The English-speaking area:

  • Countries of the world in which English is spoken as an official language or as a national and lingua franca (dark blue): British Isles , United States , Canada , Australia and New Zealand - exception: in eastern Canada, the province of Québec has French as its official and national language , in Aboriginal languages ​​are predominantly spoken in Nunavut
  • Countries in which English is an official language, but only a secondary language (light blue)
  • Official language

    English is the official language in the following states and territories:

    Country Mother
    status Country Mother
    status Country Mother
    Europe Asia Africa
    GibraltarGibraltar Gibraltar British overseas territory Andaman and Nicobar Islands ind. Union Territory West Africa
    guernseyguernsey guernsey British crown possession IndiaIndia India 320,000 GhanaGhana Ghana
    IrelandIreland Ireland 4 million Hong KongHong Kong Hong Kong Chinese special administrative area CameroonCameroon Cameroon
    Isle of ManIsle of Man Isle of Man British crown possession Coconut islandsCoconut islands Coconut islands out. Outdoor area LiberiaLiberia Liberia 69,000
    jerseyjersey jersey British crown possession PhilippinesPhilippines Philippines 40,000 (mostly US-Americans) NigeriaNigeria Nigeria
    MaltaMalta Malta 2,400 PakistanPakistan Pakistan Saint HelenaSaint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha St. Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha British overseas territory
    United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom 60 million SingaporeSingapore Singapore 227,000 Sierra LeoneSierra Leone Sierra Leone
    America Christmas IslandChristmas Island Christmas Island out. Outdoor area East Africa
    North America Oceania KenyaKenya Kenya
    BermudaBermuda Bermuda 50,000 British overseas territory AustraliaAustralia Australia 16 million MalawiMalawi Malawi 16,000
    CanadaCanada Canada 20 million Flag of Chatham Islands.svg Chatham islands new. (quasi-) region MauritiusMauritius Mauritius 3,000
    United StatesUnited States United States 210 million In some states (30),
    only de facto at the federal level
    Cook IslandsCook Islands Cook Islands new. associated RwandaRwanda Rwanda
    Caribbean FijiFiji Fiji 15,000 SeychellesSeychelles Seychelles 1,600
    AnguillaAnguilla Anguilla British overseas territory GuamGuam Guam amer. Outdoor area SudanSudan Sudan
    Antigua and BarbudaAntigua and Barbuda Antigua and Barbuda KiribatiKiribati Kiribati 340 South SudanSouth Sudan South Sudan
    BahamasBahamas Bahamas Marshall IslandsMarshall Islands Marshall Islands TanzaniaTanzania Tanzania (mostly pro forma )
    BarbadosBarbados Barbados 13,000 Micronesia, Federated StatesMicronesia Micronesia 3,500 UgandaUganda Uganda 4,500,000
    BelizeBelize Belize 170,000 NauruNauru Nauru 560 Southern Africa
    Cayman IslandsCayman Islands Cayman Islands British overseas territory New ZealandNew Zealand New Zealand 3 million BotswanaBotswana Botswana
    DominicaDominica Dominica NiueNiue Niue new. associated LesothoLesotho Lesotho
    GrenadaGrenada Grenada Norfolk IslandNorfolk Island Norfolk Island out. Outdoor area NamibiaNamibia Namibia 11,000
    JamaicaJamaica Jamaica Mariana Islands NorthernNorthern Mariana Islands Northern Mariana Islands amer. Outdoor area ZambiaZambia Zambia 41,000
    American Virgin IslandsAmerican Virgin Islands American Virgin Islands amer. Outdoor area PalauPalau Palau 20,000 ZimbabweZimbabwe Zimbabwe 375,000
    British Virgin IslandsBritish Virgin Islands British Virgin Islands British overseas territory Papua New GuineaPapua New Guinea Papua New Guinea 50,000 South AfricaSouth Africa South Africa 3.5 million
    MontserratMontserrat Montserrat British overseas territory Pitcairn IslandsPitcairn Islands Pitcairn Islands British overseas territory SwazilandSwaziland Swaziland
    Puerto RicoPuerto Rico Puerto Rico 514,000 amer. Outdoor area Solomon IslandsSolomon Islands Solomon Islands
    Saint Kitts NevisSt. Kitts and Nevis St. Kitts and Nevis SamoaSamoa Samoa
    Saint LuciaSt. Lucia St. Lucia Samoa AmericanAmerican Samoa American Samoa amer. Outdoor area
    Saint Vincent GrenadinesSt. Vincent and the Grenadines St. Vincent and the Grenadines TokelauTokelau Tokelau new. Possession
    Sint MaartenSint Maarten Sint Maarten low autonomous country TongaTonga Tonga
    Trinidad and TobagoTrinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago TuvaluTuvalu Tuvalu
    Turks Islands and Caicos IslandsTurks and Caicos Islands Turks and Caicos Islands British overseas territory VanuatuVanuatu Vanuatu 1,900
    South America
    GuyanaGuyana Guyana
    Falkland IslandsFalkland Islands Falkland Islands British overseas territory

    English is also an official language of supranational organizations such as the African Union , the Organization of American States , UNASUR , CARICOM , SAARC , ECO , ASEAN , the Pacific Island Forum , the European Union , the Commonwealth of Nations and one of the six official languages ​​of the United Nations .

    The introduction of English as an administrative language and then as an official language in the European Union will also be discussed. According to a representative YouGov survey from 2013, 59 percent of Germans would like the English language to become an official language throughout the European Union (in addition to the previous languages); in other European countries, the approval rates are sometimes over 60 Percent.

    Other uses

    The English language also serves as a communication , commercial, business or educational language with varying degrees of intensity in the following countries and regions:

    1 Is de facto a separate state, but is officially part of Somalia .

    Linguistic classification

    English is one of the Indo-European languages that originally had very strongly inflected features. All Indo-European languages ​​have more or less this characteristic to this day. However, in all of these languages ​​there is a more or less strong tendency from inflected to isolating forms . This tendency has so far been particularly pronounced in English. Today, the English language has predominantly isolating features and is structurally somewhat more similar to isolating languages ​​such as Chinese than the genetically closely related languages ​​such as German.

    In addition, the English language has now been divided into many variants due to its global distribution. Many European languages ​​also form completely new terms based on the English language ( Anglicisms , sham Anglicisms ). In some technical languages , too , the terms are characterized by Anglicisms, especially in highly globalized areas such as B. IT or economics .

    The language code is enor eng(according to ISO 639-1 or 2 ). The code for Old English or Anglo-Saxon (around the years 450 to 1100 AD) is angthat for Middle English (around 1100 to 1500) enm.


    The language levels of English can be determined as follows:

    Varieties of the English language

    The worldwide spread of the English language has developed numerous varieties or has mixed with other languages.

    The following language varieties are distinguished:

    For the rapid acquisition of English, simplified forms have been constructed over and over again, such as Basic English or Simple English or Simple English (introduced 1930, 850 words), Globish (introduced 1998, 1500 words) and Basic Global English (introduced 2006, 750 words) . In addition, a number of pidgin and creole languages 1 have developed on English substrates (especially in the Caribbean, Africa and Oceania ).


    Anglicisms that penetrate other languages ​​are sometimes given derogatory names such as “ Denglisch ” (German and English) or “ Franglais ” (French and English). These are not variants of English, but appearances in the respective language concerned. The joking term “ Engrish ” does not refer to a specific variant of the English language, but refers generally to the characteristic that can be found in East Asia and parts of Southeast Asia , not distinguishing between the phonemes “l” and “r”.

    The development of English into the lingua franca in the 20th century influenced most of the world's languages. Words are sometimes replaced or, in the case of new publications, adopted without their own translation. This development is viewed with skepticism by some, especially if there are enough synonyms in the national language. Critics also note that it is often a question of pseudo- Anglicisms (for example, cell phones in German) .

    Sometimes insufficient knowledge of the English language is blamed for mixing up and replacing existing words with pseudo-Anglicisms. According to a study by GfK , only 2.1 percent of German employees speak fluent English. In the group of under 30-year-olds, however, over 54 percent rate their English skills as good to excellent. As a result, more efficient English teaching could contribute to better language skills, and instead of synchronizing the sound of films and series, the English-language originals should be subtitled with text in the national language. This would at the same time contribute to a better demarcation between the languages ​​and a preservation of local language quality. In December 2014, the European politician Alexander Graf Lambsdorff called for English to be allowed as the administrative language and later as the official language in Germany in addition to German , in order to improve the conditions for qualified immigrants, avert the shortage of skilled workers and facilitate investments.



    Similar and related words in Standard German

    Origin of English words in%

    A large class of differences between the German and English languages ​​are due to the second phonetic shift . The innovation is on the part of the German language; the English language here retains the ancient Germanic condition. Examples are:

    • engl. t too high German s in water or water (after vowel)
    • engl. t too high German z in two or two (initial sound)
    • engl. p too high German f in ripe or ripe (after a vowel)
    • engl. p too high German pf in plum or plum (initial)
    • engl. k too high German ch in break or to break (after vowel)
    • engl. d too high German t in bed or bed
    • engl. th too high German d in three or three

    However, there are also differences in which the German language is more conservative:

    • Diminished English n , to be observed in English us , goose or five in comparison to High German us , goose or five
    • English f or v instead of Germanic and German b , to be observed in English thief or have compared to High German Dieb or haben
    • dwindled Germanic (and Old and Middle English) [ x ] (German Ach sound) (with the allophone [ ç ], German I sound), partly changed to [ f ], in the typeface still on mute (or pronounced as f) to recognize gh , to observe in English night , right or laugh in comparison to high German night , right / right or laugh

    Text collections

    When Project Gutenberg numerous texts are freely available.

    Language traps: "False friends"

    The following articles deal with the typical mistakes that can occur when learning and translating the English language:

    English lessons, didactics of English lessons

    see. Foreign language didactics

    See also



    Literature on vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation

    • Wolfgang Viereck, Heinrich Ramisch, Karin Viereck: dtv Atlas English Language . dtv, 2002, ISBN 3-423-03239-1 .
    • Michael McCarthy, Felicity O'Dell: English Vocabulary in Use. upper-intermediate and advanced . Cambridge University Press, 1994.
    • Frank R. Palmer : Mood and Modality . Cambridge University Press, 1986, ISBN 0-521-31930-7 .
    • Raymond Murphy: English Grammar in Use . Cambridge University Press, 1985.
    • JC Wells: Accents of English . Volume I: An Introduction. Cambridge University Press, 1982, ISBN 0-521-29719-2 .
    • JC Wells: Accents of English . Volume II: The British Isles. Cambridge University Press, 1982, ISBN 0-521-28540-2 .
    • JC Wells: Accents of English . Volume III: Beyond the British Isles. Cambridge University Press, 1982, ISBN 0-521-28541-0 .
    • Wilhelm Horn: Contributions to the English history of words (= treatises of the Academy of Sciences and Literature. Humanities and social science class. Born 1950, Volume 23). Verlag der Wissenschaft und der Literatur in Mainz (commissioned by Franz Steiner Verlag, Wiesbaden).
    • Ludwig Albert: The latest and most complete pocket dictionary of the correct pronunciation of English and American proper names . Leipzig 1839

    Literature on English as a world language

    • Stefan Bauernschuster: The English language in times of globalization. Prerequisite or endangerment of international understanding? Tectum Verlag, Marburg 2006, ISBN 3-8288-9062-8 .
    • Robert Phillipson: Linguistic Imperialism . Oxford University Press, 2000, ISBN 0-19-437146-8 .
    • David Crystal: English as a Global Language . Cambridge University Press, 2012, ISBN 978-1-107-61180-1 .

    Web links

    Wiktionary: English  - explanations of meanings, origins of words, synonyms, translations
    Wiktionary: Category: English  - Explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
    Commons : English language  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
    Commons : English Pronunciation  - album of pictures, videos and audio files
    Wikiquote: English  - Quotes
    Wikibooks: English  - learning and teaching materials
    Wikisource: English  - sources and full texts
    Wikisource: English Dictionaries  - Sources and Full Texts

    Linguistic databases

    Individual evidence

    1. a b c d Number of native speakers accessed on September 28, 2018.
    2. a b Number of second speakers accessed on September 28, 2018.
    3. English. Accessed April 25, 2020 (English).
    4. ^ Kristin Denham: Linguistics for Everyone: An Introduction . Cengage Learning, 2009. See v. a. P. 89 and p. 439ff.
    5. ↑ Number of speakers in Belize. Country data; accessed on March 21, 2014.
    6. ↑ Number of speakers in Puerto Rico. Country data; accessed on March 21, 2014.
    7. Survey: Majority of Germans for English as the second official language , YouGov opinion research institute, August 9, 2013
    8. Distribution as a lingua franca . accessed on March 21, 2014.
    9. For the development of the vocabulary cf. man Joachim Grzega, Marion Schöner: English and General Historical Lexicology . (PDF; 511 kB)
    10. Tina Groll : Business English: Germans speak bad English. In: zeit.de . June 18, 2013, accessed December 25, 2014 .
    11. Jürgen Gerhards, Doris Hess: Learning languages: television in English. In: zeit.de . April 9, 2014, accessed December 25, 2014 .
    12. Alexander Graf Lambsdorff : English must become our administrative language. In: welt.de . December 15, 2014, accessed December 25, 2014 .