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English Language Classification
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English Language Classification
English is an Indo-European language, and belongs to the West Germanic group of the Germanic languages. Most closely related to English are the Frisian languages, and English and Frisian form the Anglo-Frisian subgroup within West Germanic. Old Saxon and its descendent Low German languages are also closely related, and sometimes Low German, English, and Frisian are grouped together as the Ingvaeonic or North Sea Germanic languages. Modern English descends from Middle English, which in turn descends from Old English. Particular dialects of Old and Middle English also developed into a number of other English (Anglic) languages, including Scots and the extinct Fingallian and Forth and Bargy (Yola) dialects of Ireland.
English language is classified as a Germanic language because it shares new language features (different from other Indo-European languages) with other Germanic languages such as Dutch, German, and Swedish. These shared innovations show that the languages have descended from a single common ancestor, which linguists call Proto-Germanic. Some shared features of Germanic languages are the use of modal verbs, the division of verbs into strong and weak classes, and the sound changes affecting Proto-Indo-European consonants, known as Grimm's and Verner's laws. Through Grimm's law, the word for foot begins with /f/ in Germanic languages, but its cognates in other Indo-European languages begin with /p/. English is classified as an Anglo-Frisian language because Frisian and English share other features, such as the palatalisation of consonants that were velar consonants in Proto-Germanic.
English sing, sang, sung; Dutch zingen, zong, gezongen; German singen, sang, gesungen (strong verb)
English laugh, laughed; Dutch and German lachen, lachte (weak verb)
English foot, Dutch voet, German Fuß, Norwegian and Swedish fot (initial /f/ derived from Proto-Indo-European *p through Grimm's law)
Latin pes, stem ped-; Modern Greek πόδι pódi; Russian под pod; Sanskrit pád (original Proto-Indo-European *p)
English cheese, Frisian tsiis (ch and ts from palatalisation)
German Käse and Dutch kaas (k without palatalisation)
English language, like the other insular Germanic languages, Icelandic and Faroese, developed independently of the continental Germanic languages and their influences. English is thus not mutually intelligible with any continental Germanic language, differing in vocabulary, syntax, and phonology, although some, such as Dutch, do show strong affinities with English, especially with its earlier stages.
Because English through its history has changed considerably in response to contact with other languages, particularly Old Norse and Norman French, some scholars have argued that English can be considered a mixed language or a creole – a theory called the Middle English creole hypothesis. Although the high degree of influence from these languages on the vocabulary and grammar of Modern English is widely acknowledged, most specialists in language contact do not consider English to be a true mixed language.
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