Which Languages are closest to English?
The closest primary language to English is Dutch. Dutch is spoken by 24 million native speakers and 5 million people who use it as a second language. It is third in Germanic languages after English and German. Because it is so close to English, and Dutch is a popular language to learn because of its friendly nature. The Dutch are known for their willingness to accept visitors. In Amsterdam, the Dutch capital city, 30 percent of the population are tourists at any one time. The Dutch are less likely than other cultures to be offended by grammatical errors made when learning the language. You can practice your Dutch without fear.
The English language can be fickle. It is an irregular language that rejects its own rules and makes exceptions for other people. There is also a lot of infighting (look at you, Oxford comma). This is partly due to English’s complex history, but it’s also because English is a greedy language and likes to take words from other languages to make it’s own.
These factors make it difficult for us to identify the closest languages to English. Because of the common vocabulary and German, it would be easy for English to be considered most comparable to French. English, however, is a Germanic language. It is not as simple as you might think.
Dutch is close to English for the same reason. German, however, is another language that is closer to English and may be easier to learn. Dutch is often referred to as the language between English and German.
We are confident that you will learn another language, whether it is English or close to it.
Let’s find out why.
Close Language: German
Anyone who has tried to learn German will tell you that it is a complex language. However, like all languages on this list, it descends from the same root language, Proto-Germanic. This is why English, German and French share so much vocabulary.
Close Language: Norwegian
We finally have a language other than the West Germanic language for the following closest language to English. You shouldn’t be too excited, though. Norwegian is still a Germanic Language. It’s a Northern Germanic Language.
What makes English so similar? The British Isles were subject to numerous Viking invasions from the 8th through the 11th centuries. These Vikings brought Old Norse language with them when they pillaged, and some of the Norse vocabularies ended up in modern English.
Frisian is the closest (definitely distinct) language
Frisian is the closest language to English, but it is a distinct language. Frisian is a combination of three languages spoken in different parts of Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands. It is a West Germanic language with 80% lexical similarities to English.
Dutch is the closest primary language:
Dutch is the closest language relative to Dutch. Dutch, like English and Frisian, is another West Germanic language. It evolved from Proto-Germanic. Dutch has many words and phrases that are similar to English and a parallel grammatical structure.
Look at the Dutch expression “Ik Heb een probleem”. It literally means “I have a problem” in English. You probably already knew that based on their similarities. It is easy to see that the grammatical structure mirrors what English speakers naturally expect.
Close Language: French
Sacre bleu! Sacre bleu! However, linguists found that English and French were 27% lexical alike and that English speakers often use words of French origin every day. This excludes the French phrases so common in English; it’s an almost faux pas to not know them.
The Duke of Normandy conquered large swathes of modern-day England in 1066 and changed the language of the elite from Old French to Old French. You can thank the Duke of Normandy for the 1,500+ common cognates you don’t have to relearn if you ever decide to learn French.
Scots is the closest language
Scots is the closest language to English. Because the language is more commonly regarded as a dialect than a language, we use “arguably.” According to a study done by the Scottish government in 2010, 64% of Scottish citizens do not consider it a distinct language.
English and Scots can be very similar since they both evolved from Old English (Anglo-Saxon). Scots was Scotland’s primary language until 1707, when it was united with the English and Scottish parliaments. English was soon to become the language of government, religion, and everyday speech. Despite this, Scots is still a crucial part of Scottish identity.