World Languages: English

Number 3: English

Five…Four…THREE…this week we’re speaking about the third most spoken language in the world! It is the language of this sweet, sweet, blog itself – English.

Across the world five per cent of the population speak English as a first language –that’s about 335 million people! It is the first language of the United Kingdom and Ireland, and is widely spoken across North America, Australia and South Africa. English has many dialects that are spoken, each of which is widely understood by others who also speak English, but live in a different region. Think about it, British English is a different dialect from Canadian English, yet we can still understand each other despite a thick accent and the speed at which we speak.

As part of the Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family, there are similarities with the German, Dutch and Frisian languages. It dates back as far as 55 B.C. during the Roman invasion of Britain by Julius Caesar. The language has changed over the years, formerly known as ‘Old English’ then ‘Middle English’ and finally ‘Modern English.’

The alphabet consists of 26 letters, 5 of which are vowels. It is based on the Latin script, where many English root words have origins. As you may know, it is written from left to right and each character in a word has its own sound.

For those of you who are looking to learn English as a second language, your ability to learn may be easier or more difficult based on your first language. Dutch or German speakers may have an easier time learning the language, while Chinese or Russian speakers may have a slightly more difficult time.

Join us again next week as we learn about the second most spoken language in the world!