BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

14 October 2014
Other languages Languages

BBC Homepage
» European Languages
Family Tree

Contact Us


Related languages English is a west Germanic language, most closely related to Frisian and Scots.
European speakers 60,000,000 speakers
Territories In Europe English is the official language in the United Kingdom, Gibraltar, Ireland and Malta. It is one of the official languages of the European Union and of the United Nations.
Alphabet English is written in the Roman alphabet.
First examples The Anglo Saxons were pagans, and so the first examples of English are Anglo Saxon inscriptions on runes. The language was later influenced by Latin, Scandinavian languages and the Norman French.
Other facts English exploration and colonisation led to lots of foreign additions to the language: in the 16th century English absorbed 'armadillo' and 'tornado' from Spanish, 'trophy' and 'pioneer' from French, and 'luck' and 'wagon' from Dutch. In the 18th and 19th centuries aboriginal languages became a rich source: 'taboos' and 'kangaroos' sprang up from Australia and New Zealand, 'gurus' and 'pyjamas' made an appearance from India and 'igloos' and 'toboggans' slid in from Canada.

Key Phrases
Pleased to meet you.
Thank you.
My name is ...
Do you speak English?
I'm sorry, I don't speak English.
I need help.
Where is the toilet, please?

These audio clips require Flash.

Countries of Europe Countries Languages of Europe Languages

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy