Around around 94% of the 62 million

Around the world, there are around 375 million native
speakers of English. As such, it is estimated to be the
third largest language, coming behind only Mandarin
Chinese and Spanish. English is a (co)-official language
in 53 countries worldwide.
Within Europe, English is the most commonly used
language in the United Kingdom. It is not an official
language in the UK, since there is no formal constitution.
However, it can be considered the de facto language,
given that it is the official language of the British
government, and is spoken by around 94% of the 62
million inhabitants of the UK 7. It is also the most
widely spoken language in the Republic of Ireland (population
approximately 4.5 million), where English is the
second official language, a?er Irish. English is additionally
the official language of Gibraltar (a British Overseas
Territory) and a co-official language in Jersey, Guernsey
and the Isle of Man (British Crown Dependencies),
as well as in Malta. Outside of Europe, the countries
with the greatest number of native English speakers are
the United States of America (215 million speakers),
Canada (17.5 million speakers) and Australia (15.5 million
speakers).
In addition to English, the UK has further recognised
regional languages, according to the European Charter
for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML), i. e.,
Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Cornish, Irish, Scots, and its regional
variant Ulster Scots. Since February 2011, the
Welsh language (which is spoken by approximately 20%
of the population of Wales) has shared official status
with English in Wales 8. ?e large number of British
Asians (approximately 2.3 million or 4% of the population,
according to the 2001 census) give rise to other
languages being spoken in the UK, most notably Punjabi
and Bengali.
English is a (co)-official language
in 53 countries worldwide.
Due to global spread of English, a large number of dialects
have developed. Major dialects such as American
English and Australian English can be split into a number
of sub-dialects. In recent times, differences in grammar
between the dialects have become relatively minor,
with major variations being mainly limited to pronunciation
and, to some extent, vocabulary, e. g., bairn (child)
in northern England and Scotland. In addition to dialects,
there are also a number of English-based pidgins
and creole languages. Pidgins are simplified languages
that develop as a means of communication between two
or more groups that do not have a language in common.
An example is Nigerian pidgin, which is a used as a lingua
?anca in Nigeria, where 521 languages have been
identified. A creole language is a pidgin that has become
nativised (i. e., learnt as a native language), such as Jamaican
Patois. For further general reading on the English
language, the reader is referred to 9, 10, 11, 12.
9
3.2 PARTICULARITIES OF THE
ENGLISH LANGUAGE
Compared to most European languages, English has
minimal inflection, with a lack of grammatical gender
or adjectival agreement. Grammatical case marking has
also largely been abandoned, with personal pronouns
being a notable exception, where nominative case (I, we,
etc.), accusative/dative case (me, us, etc.) and genitive
case (my, our, etc.) are still distinguished.
A particularfeature of the English language is its spelling
system, which is notoriously difficult to master for nonnative
speakers. Whilst in many languages, there is a
consistent set of rules that map spoken sounds to written
forms, this is not the case in English. Nearly every
sound can be spelt in more than one way, and conversely,
most letters can be pronounced in multiple ways. Consequently,
English has been described as “the world’s
worst spelled language” 13.
Consider the /u:/ sound, which in English can be spelt
(among other ways) as “oo” as in boot, “u” as in truth,
“ui” as in ?uit, “o” as in to, “oe” as in shoe, “ou” as in
group, “ough” as in through and “ew” as in flew. Having
multiple written ways to represent a single sound is
not in itself an unusual feature of written languages. For
example, the same sound can be written in French as
“ou”, “ous”, “out” or “oux”. However, what is more unusual
about English is the fact that most of the written
forms have alternative pronunciations as well, e. g., r

x

Hi!
I'm Joan!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out