What Language is Closest come English?May 17, 2016

Author: coast Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, middle ages , trackback


English is a german language and its closest living relation should be among the Continental german tongues, German, Dutch and also the like. However, try speaking English to a German who knows no English, or shot understanding German (with simply English) and also you will uncover that lock are an extremely distant relations. An Italian listening to Spanish: or a German listening to dutch will have actually the strange emotion of expertise a language that is no their own. A Swede and also a Norwegian, say, can communicate, certainly about straightforward matters, both using their own tongues. This is merely not possible for one English-speaker save probably with English language speakers, couple of of whom currently survive and all of whom know English; or some of the world’s numerous colourful and also bizarre pidgin Englishes.

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Why is it the English and also its close cousins, German, Dutch and also the various German dialects drifted apart therefore radically? Well, first, English belonged come a western branch the the german family, the ‘Ingvaeonics’, that progressed apart indigenous the german mainstream. Second, English encountered, in Britain, various other languages, brother Celtic (Brittonic) and most importantly, French and also Norse (a distant Germanic relation) which affected its vocabulary and also syntax. Then, third, for factors that have never been appropriately explained, English mutated away not simply from the Germanic yet from nearly all Indo-European languages by abandoning one inflectional mechanism with its verbs: crudely speaking English has actually the exact same verb finishing in many situations.

So what is the closest relation to English? Well, in spite of English’s dramatic drift over the centuries, the price to that question need to be among its continental german cousins. After that it is a inquiry of measuring. English is, because that example, closer come Dutch than it is to German: reading Dutch is definitely easier than reading German for an English-speaker. However, English is also closer to Frisian, itself a cousin that Dutch, talked in the north of the Netherlands (and in parts of Germany).


‘Even closer’ has to be parsed though: one English and also a prije person speaker will certainly not have that happy experience, acquainted to, say, a Galician and a Portuguese speak of being able to connect each in their own language; despite they will have flashes of comprehension if they have the patience to keep up a conversation for an ext than the first embarrassing sixty seconds. Frisian might be English minus the island experiences of the last fifteen century (Normans, Welsh and Vikings): in fact, prije person is often said to be ‘modern’ Old English; though, note, it is nowhere close to as close to Anglo-Saxon as Norse is to Icelandic.

For any English speakers itching to take it on Frisian right here is a nationwide poem native the so late nineteenth century. What does the mean? The English translate in follows automatically on. Lots is comprehensible however there is no question that English and Frisian are three times removed.

Frysk bloed tsjoch op! Wol noris brûze en siede,

en bûnzje troch ús ieren om!

Flean op! Wy sjonge it bêste lân pan d’ierde,

it Fryske lân fol eare en rom.

Klink dan en daverje fier yn that rûn,

Dyn âlde eare, o Fryske grûn!

Here that is sung, simply in situation orthography it s okay in the way.

(Frisian blood, thicken up! currently rise, foam and seethe, and thud on v our veins! Rise up! We sing of the finest land top top the Earth, the prije person land complete of honour and also glory. Sound then and thunder it far and wide, Thine old honour, oh frisian ground!)

20 may 2015: Louis gives us science: as a dutch speaker, ns am always really glad the my expertise of English, whenever i am analysis (not hearing, mind!) Frisian. Along with my German and Dutch understanding I am typically able come decipher about 90 percent that a prije person text. With just German and also Dutch, that would sink to less then sixty….

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Michel sends this entertaining video in.

KMH, meanwhile, has this question: We know that strange things may take place biologically on islands reduced off native the mainland – Australia is a good example of whole continent in this category. Perhaps human being languages ‘evolve’ in the exact same manner and this is why English has end up being so distinctive amongst the Indo-European group. What perform you think?