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Quick Reference
  ·  Official Language
USA, Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and many countries in West Indies, more than a dozen African countries including Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya, and Hong Kong.
  ·  Number of Speakers
Mother tongue 350 million.
  ·  Origin
Germanic language and member of the Indo-European family. Language dates back to arrival of 3 Germanic tribes: Angles/Saxons/Jutes in Britain in the 5th Century. Subsequently splits into three periods - 1 Old English 5th Century -1150; 2 Middle English, 1150 - 1300; 3 Modern English 1500 - present day.
  ·  Alphabet & Scripts
English is often called the unofficial language of the world community, which is no wonder when you consider that half of the world's scientific journals are written in English, three quarters of the world's mail is written in English and three fifths of the radio stations of the world beam their messages in the English language!

In tracing the historical development of the English language, it is usual to divide it into three periods: Old English, which dates from the earliest times to 1150; Middle English 1150-1500; and Modern English 1500 to the present day.

The history of the English language is said to have begun with the arrival in Britain of three Germanic tribes in the middle of the 5th Century. Angles, Saxons and Jutes crossed the North Sea from what is now Denmark and the coast of Northwest Germany. The inhabitants prior to this invasion spoke a Celtic tongue.

The Jutes came from Jutland and settled in Kent, The Isle of Wight and along part of the Hampshire coast. The Saxons came from Holstein and settled in the rest of England south of the Thames. The Angles came from Schleswig and settled in the area extending northward from the Thames as far as Scotland and it is from them that the word 'English' evolved.

They came from the 'angle' or corner of land today known as Schleswig-Holstein. In Old English, their name was 'Engle' and their language was known as 'englisc'.

During the centuries that followed, four distinct dialects of English emerged; Northumbrian, Mercian, West Saxon and Kentish. In the 7th and 8th Centuries, Northumbria enjoyed cultural and political ascendancy in England but in the 9th Century both Northumbria and Mercia were devastated by the Viking invasions.

Only Wessex preserved its independence and by the 10th Century the West Saxon dialect came to be the official language of the country.

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English is the second most spoken language in the world but it is the official language of more countries than any other language. Its speakers hail from all around the world.
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