English is a fickle thing, but not always. There are many ways to describe it. For instance, it’s often said that English is a “frozen accident,” meaning that it was formed from two different languages.
But there are also those who say that English is an “accidental language,” meaning that, despite its flaws, it became the dominant language around the world.
Either way, English is a complex language. It borrows vocabulary from many other languages, including Latin, Greek, French, Spanish, Arabic, Celtic, Norse, Old English, Dutch, German, and even Finnish.
It has borrowed from many other languages as well, including Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, Russian, Portuguese, Italian, Turkish, Swahili, Yoruba, Zulu, and Xhosa. And then there are the loanwords from Native American languages like Navajo, Hopi, Ojibwe, Cree, Choctaw, Lakota, Cheyenne, Inuit, and Mohawk.
So how does one figure out which language is closest? Well, it turns out that English is very similar to several languages. If we take a closer look, we will see that English is very close to both French and German.
Closest Language : Scots
Scots is not a separate language from English. It is just a dialect of English. It is spoken mainly in Scotland, although there are also communities in England and Northern Ireland.
There are many words that are similar between the two languages, but there are also differences. For example, “the” is pronounced differently in Scots compared to English. Also, “you” is usually used instead of “your.”
English and Scots are similar because they both developed out of Old English. Both languages were spoken during the Anglo Saxon period, before the Norman conquest of 1066.
At that time, England was divided into four kingdoms: Wessex, Mercia, Northumbria, and East Anglia. These kingdoms were ruled by different kings, each with their own court language. After the invasion, King William I ordered all men to speak English, and the Normans began to rule England.
As a result, the official language of the government became English. Meanwhile, the Celtic population remained separate and continued speaking their native tongue.
Over time, English spread throughout the country, while many people still spoke Gaelic. Today, English is the official language of the United Kingdom and is also widely spoken in Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Closest Definitely Distinct Language : Frisian
Frisian is a West Germanic language spoken in the Netherlands, Denmark, and northern Germany. It’s closely related to Dutch and English. Frisian speakers share about 80 percent of their vocabulary with English speakers.
There are currently about 480,000 native speakers of Frisian, but the number is decreasing due to assimilation into Dutch culture.
Frisian is a Germanic language related to Low Franconian and High German. Frisian is spoken primarily in the northern Netherlands and western Germany. Frisian is also spoken in parts of Denmark, Sweden, and Finland.
The Frisians are actually three different languages spoken in parts of Holland, Denmark, and Germany, but English, Scots, and Frisian are the only living members. The Frisian languages are also called Low German because they were once spoken all across northern Europe.
These languages share many similarities with Dutch, including the same alphabet. Frisian is closely related to English, and both languages have similar origins. Frisian is also very close to Scandinavian languages like Swedish and Norwegian.
Closest Major Language : Dutch
The Dutch is the second most spoken language in Europe after English. It is also the third most widely spoken native language in the Netherlands. It is closely related to Friesian and Low German.
Like all languages, there are differences between dialects. For example, the word for “to have a problem” is “een probleem” in Standard Dutch, while “een probleem hebben” is used in the North Brabant dialect.
Dutch is one of the easiest languages to learn because it doesn’t require any additional grammar knowledge. It’s also very similar to Afrikaans, which is spoken in South Africa. Afrikaans is derived from Dutch and adds more native words.