Which languages are the closest to English?
You are English-speaking and you want to learn a new language but you don't know which one? You don't want to start in a language too different from your own to make it easier for you? Here is a list of the foreign languages closest to English to help you make your choice.
South African language based on Dutch but with a more indigenous vocabulary. Indeed, Afrikaans and English come from the Western Germanic language family which makes these two languages quite close. Some changes in pronunciation are different but African is simpler than English because you only need to learn vocabulary to build sentences without worrying about conjugation and grammar.
It is said to be 27% lexically similar to English and many words of French origin are used by English speakers. However, it presents some difficulties on verbal forms and gender names. The most difficult is pronunciation for English speakers.
This proximity between these two languages comes from the invasion, the Normandy landings more precisely, indeed it seems that a third of the English vocabulary has been influenced by the French language.
Germanic language close to English because the Vikings brought it to the United Kingdom. Similar to Danish but with a more familiar pronunciation for English speakers.
Depending on the person or number there is no conjugation in Norwegian, moreover the past tense is formed with the suffix -e and the passive with the addition of a simple -s which is very simple compared to English.
What brings English closer to Portuguese is the pronunciation, grammatically Portuguese is similar to other Romance languages and there are fewer prepositions than in English. However, there are not always words to express certain English words and vice versa.
Spoken by less than half a million people in Friesland in the Netherlands, rarely studied as a second language, it is almost impossible to find a textbook or a teacher. Linguistically it is the closest language to English because it comes from the same sub-family of Western Germanic languages. Phonetically the sentences are almost identical. Indeed, it is estimated that the lexical similarities between the two languages are around 80%. It was a very popular language in the Middle Ages, although today its use has declined significantly, giving way to Dutch.
Like Frisian, Dutch is a western Germanic language, which means that many words and expressions are similar to those in English and have a similar grammatical structure. It is therefore one of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn, and Dutch speakers are generally very comfortable in English-speaking countries.
It is undoubtedly the closest language to English, although it is often considered to be an English dialect rather than a language. Indeed, 64% of Scots do not consider English as a distinct language.
They developed from Old English and due to the political division Scottish was the main language of Scotland until the union of the Scottish and English parliaments. English therefore became the language of government and religion, but Scottish has not disappeared and remains an essential part of Scottish identity.
Romance language with Slavic influences, it is the closest language to Latin because it has kept its grammatical structure 80% similar to Latin. Some disparities concerning the articles exist however placed sometimes at the beginning and sometimes at the end of the names.
Spanish pronunciation is easy for English speakers, as in Italian the spelling is clear and simple, the words are written as they are pronounced, which makes reading easier. Grammatically Spanish has fewer irregularities than other Romance languages.
It happens that some words sound the same as in English but mean something completely different. These are called false friends.
Germanic language with a common vocabulary with English and a similar syntax. Pronunciation is a bit difficult and the "sje" sound is unique to Swedish but once you master the language it is very melodious. The syntactic scheme is almost the same as in English, although the grammar may seem a little more complicated. Verb formation also uses many of the same patterns as in English and the verb forms are normally constant even if the person changes.
This language is quite difficult to learn, as it descends from the proto-Germanic linguistic root, which is why it shares a lot of vocabulary with English. The two languages are in fact considered to be lexically 60% similar. These languages therefore have similarities with the English language and English speakers will surely find it easier to learn them. However, this does not mean that they will not be able to learn other languages. Each language can be learned with time, will and practice.
Each language is different and requires special training, there is no easier language than others only languages that are closer to each other often based on a common historical past. It can also be interesting to find out about the history of a language before you start learning it, you may be surprised at what it hides and perhaps how close it is to the history of your own language.
Whether you decide to take group or private lessons, use sites, applications or books and do your educational program alone, there are many ways to practice learning a language.
You can find lots of tips on how to learn a new language in our articles in the blog section of our Studenz website. You will also find some techniques and tips to keep you focused and confident to learn a new language.
You can also chat with people from different countries to have a language exchange and learn their language. You can find this service in the language exchange section.
Written by: Lisa Lambert, Staff Writer
- Learning Languages
- 6 Mar, 2020
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