ENGLISH: a language of United Kingdom

The following is the entry for this language as it appeared in the 14th edition (2000).
It was superseded by the corresponding entry in the 15th edition (2005). See also the corresponding entry in the 16th edition (2009).

SIL code: ENG

ISO 639-1: en

ISO 639-2: eng

Population 55,000,000 first language speakers in United Kingdom (1984 estimate). Population total all countries 341,000,000 first language speakers (1999 WA), 508,000,000 including second language speakers (1999 WA).
Region Also spoken in 104 other countries including American Samoa, Andorra, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Botswana, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Cameroon, Canada, Cayman Islands, Cook Islands, Denmark.
Dialects COCKNEY, SCOUSE, GEORDIE, WEST COUNTRY, EAST ANGLIA, BIRMINGHAM (BRUMMY, BRUMMIE), SOUTH WALES, EDINBURGH, BELFAST, CORNWALL, CUMBERLAND, CENTRAL CUMBERLAND, DEVONSHIRE, EAST DEVONSHIRE, DORSET, DURHAM, BOLTON LANCASHIRE, NORTH LANCASHIRE, RADCLIFFE LANCASHIRE, NORTHUMBERLAND, NORFOLK, NEWCASTLE NORTHUMBERLAND, TYNESIDE NORTHUMBERLAND, LOWLAND SCOTTISH, SOMERSET, SUSSEX, WESTMORLAND, NORTH WILTSHIRE, CRAVEN YORKSHIRE, NORTH YORKSHIRE, SHEFFIELD YORKSHIRE, WEST YORKSHIRE.
Classification Indo-European, Germanic, West, English.
Comments 60% lexical similarity with German, 27% with French, 24% with Russian. National language. Dictionary. Grammar. SVO; prepositions; genitives after noun heads; articles, adjectives, numerals before noun heads; question word initial; word order distinguishes subject, object, indirect objects, given and new information, topic and comment; active and passive; causative; comparative; consonant and vowel clusters; nontonal. Deciduous forest. Island, plains, hills. Industrial, fishermen, craftsman. Christian. Bible 1382-1989.

Also spoken in:

American Samoa   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 1,248 first language speakers in American Samoa, foreign born (1970 census), 15,050 mainly second language speakers, representing 75% of the native born population.
Comments Official language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Anguilla   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Antigua and Barbuda   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Aruba   
Language name   ENGLISH
Dialects ARUBA ENGLISH.
Comments The third most important language. Bible 1382-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Australia   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 15,682,000 in Australia (1987), 95% of population (1980 WA).
Dialects AUSTRALIAN STANDARD ENGLISH, ABORIGINAL ENGLISH, NEO-NYUNGAR (NOONGA, NOONGAR, NOOGAR).
Comments Minor regional dialect differences. Neo-Nyungar is the community dialect of the Nyungar people. National language. Dictionary. Bible 1382-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Bahamas   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Barbados   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 13,000 (1995).
Comments National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Belize   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population Second language speakers: 55,998 in Belize (1991 census).
Comments Used in education, government, and business. National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Bermuda   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 58,800 in Bermuda (1989 estimate).
Dialects BERMUDAN ENGLISH.
Comments Colloquial English may not be a creole but a regional variety of uncreolized English. National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Botswana   
Language name   ENGLISH
Alternate names   SEKGOA
Comments International trade, medium of western influences, language of instruction from fifth grade, written language, official purposes, as second language. Official language. Taught as a subject from the beginning of primary school as a required subject. Officially becomes the language of instruction in Standard 5. Standard 7 exams are written in English. Medium of instruction. Newspapers, magazines, radio programs, TV. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
British Indian Ocean Territory   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments The indigenous population no longer resides in the islands. Current residents include members of the USA military, a small detachment of British officials, and support staff, mainly of Mauritian and Philippine origin. Official language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
British Virgin Islands   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 2,000 (1998).
Comments National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Brunei   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 8,000 in Brunei. 16% of ethnic Chinese speak English as first language. Probably other first language speakers.
Comments Government, education. Used increasingly by educated speakers as first or second language. National language. Newspapers, TV. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Cameroon   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments Official language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Canada   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 17,100,000 mother tongue speakers in Canada, or 60% of the population (1998 Statistics Canada). 820,000 mother tongue speakers in Quebec (1995 Statistics Canada); plus another 1,500,000 in Quebec whose first or second language is English (1995 Statistics Canada).
Dialects NEWFOUNDLAND ENGLISH.
Comments National language. Bible 1382-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Cayman Islands   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 9,200 (1993).
Comments National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Cook Islands   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 683 in Cook Islands (1966 UN report).
Comments National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Dominica   
Language name   ENGLISH
Dialects DOMINICAN ENGLISH.
Comments National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Eritrea   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments Language of higher education and many technical fields. National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Ethiopia   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 1,986 mother tongue speakers, 169,726 second language users (1998 census).
Comments Language of higher education, many technical fields, and international communication. Official language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Falkland Islands   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 1,991 in Falkland Islands (1993 Johnstone).
Comments National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Fiji   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 4,929 Europeans in Fiji (1976 census). An additional 10,276 or 1.8% of population (1976 census) are part-European, and speak English and Fijian.
Comments Also used by many urban Chinese (4,652 in 1976), Rotuman, occasionally by Indians, rarely by Fijians (P. Geraghty 1981). Main language of commerce, education, government. There are also reports of a Fijian Pidgin English. National language. Newspapers, radio programs. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Gambia   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments Official language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Ghana   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population Second language speakers: 1,000,000 (1977 Voegelin and Voegelin).
Comments Official language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Gibraltar   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 3,300 in Gibraltar (1993 Johnstone).
Dialects YANITO.
Comments Yanito is spoken by most Gibraltarians among themselves. It is a dialect of English with a strong Spanish influence, with over 500 words coming from Genoese (Ligurian) and Hebrew. Official language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Grenada   
Language name   ENGLISH
Dialects GRENADIAN ENGLISH.
Comments Post-creole English with French Creole influences (M. Alleyne). National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Guam   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 28,800 in Guam (1987).
Comments USA military and dependents. National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Guyana   
Language name   ENGLISH
Dialects GUYANESE ENGLISH.
Comments Spoken as first language by some Blacks and some Hindustanis. National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Honduras   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 9,000 first language speakers in Honduras.
Comments Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
India   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population Second language speakers: 11,021,610 (1961 census).
Comments Official language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Ireland   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 2,600,000 in Ireland (1983 estimate).
Dialects SOUTH HIBERNO ENGLISH, NORTH HIBERNO ENGLISH.
Comments National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Israel   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 100,000 in Israel (1993).
Alternate names   ANGLIT
Comments Official language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Jamaica   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Kenya   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population Mainly second language speakers.
Comments Official language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Kiribati   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 338 in Kiribati (1978 census).
Comments National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Lebanon   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments Has been used to some extent since the founding of the American University of Beirut in 1866. Many English language publications. Not spoken on the street or in Lebanese homes. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Lesotho   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments Official language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Liberia   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 69,000 or 2.5% of the population are Americo-Liberian (1993).
Dialects LIBERIAN STANDARD ENGLISH.
Comments Official language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Malawi   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 16,000 in Malawi (1993).
Comments Official language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Malaysia (Peninsular)   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Malta   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 2,400 speakers in Malta (1993 Johnstone).
Comments National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Marshall Islands   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Mauritius   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 3,000 in Mauritius (1993 Johnstone).
Comments Used in secondary school, courts, for road signs. Not widely known. Official language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Micronesia   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 3,540 first language speakers in Micronesia, foreign born (1970 census).
Comments National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Midway Islands   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 2,256 in Midway (1975 WA).
Comments National language. 99% USA military. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Montserrat   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Namibia   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 10,941 in Namibia (1991 census).
Comments Not understood or spoken by everyone. Official language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Nauru   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 564 first language speakers, 7,254 including second language users (1979 Government figures).
Comments National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Netherlands Antilles   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments Post-creole English is the dialect used (Alleyne). The third most important language in Netherlands Antilles. Bible 1382-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
New Zealand   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 3,213,000 in New Zealand (1987), 90% of the population.
Comments National language. Bible 1382-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Nigeria   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population Second language speakers: 1,000,000 (1977 Voegelin and Voegelin).
Comments Used in government, education. Official language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Niue   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population Second language speakers in Niue: 2,082.
Comments National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Norfolk Island   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 1,678 in Norfolk Island (1980 Government report).
Comments National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Northern Mariana Islands   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Pakistan   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments Mainly second language speakers in Pakistan. Official language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Palau   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Papua New Guinea   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 50,000 in Papua New Guinea (1987), 1.5% of the population.
Comments Official language. Used in schools. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Philippines   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 32,802 in Philippines (1990 census). 52% of the population said they could speak it as a second language (1980 census).
Comments National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Pitcairn   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Puerto Rico   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 82,000 mother tongue speakers (1995), 376,371 second language users (1970 census).
Comments National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Rwanda   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population Mainly second language speakers.
Comments There may be more users of English than of French. Official language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Seychelles   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 1,601 in Seychelles (1971 census).
Comments Principal language of the schools. Official language. Bible 1382-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Sierra Leone   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments Used in administration, law, education, commerce. Official language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Singapore   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 227,000 speakers, 8.9% of population, 729,000 second language users (literate in English) in Singapore, 28.5% of population (1985 estimate).
Comments Ethnic groups which use English: Chinese 154,000, 68%; European and Eurasian 34,000, 15%; Indian 32,000, 14%; Malay 6,000, 3%. Chinese varieties and Tamil also used at home. National language. Bible 1382-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Solomon Islands   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments National language. Bible 1382-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Somalia   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments Used more in the north. Official language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
South Africa   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 3,500,000 in South Africa (1991 Christos van Rensburg), 9.1% of the population (1995 The Economist).
Comments The main means of communication in urban areas. Many second generation people from India, Portugal, Germany, and Greece speak English as first language. Official language. Bible 1382-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Sri Lanka   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 97,000 first language speakers in Sri Lanka (1962).
Comments Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
St. Helena   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
St. Kitts-Nevis   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
St. Lucia   
Language name   ENGLISH
Dialects ST. LUCIAN ENGLISH.
Comments There is an emerging English vernacular on St. Lucia, in a certain rural area. It is significantly restructured, heavily French creole-influenced, English lexicon (Paul Garrett 1998). National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
St. Pierre and Miquelon   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 188 in St. Pierre and Miquelon (1967 census).
Comments Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
St. Vincent and the Grenadines   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Swaziland   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments Taught in all government and private schools. National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Tanzania   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population Second language speakers in Tanzania: 1,500,000 (1977 Voegelin and Voegelin).
Comments Used by some Asian residents as mother tongue. Taught in secondary school and university. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Tokelau   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments Used in schools. National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Tonga   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments Official language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Trinidad and Tobago   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Turks and Caicos Islands   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
U.S. Virgin Islands   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 8,414 mother tongue speakers in U.S. Virgin Islands (1970 census).
Comments National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Uganda   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population Second language speakers: 1,000,000 (1977 Voegelin and Voegelin).
Comments Used in primary schools, law courts. Official language. Newspapers, radio programs. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
USA   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 210,000,000 first language speakers in USA (1984 estimate). 8,400,000 USA residents with no one 14 years old or older who speaks fluent English; 38% or 7,700,000 households headed by immigrants.
Dialects BLACK ENGLISH.
Comments There are many regional dialects. Official language. Bible 1382-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Vanuatu   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 1,900 in Vanuatu (1995), 1.1% of the population.
Comments First language speakers are from the United Kingdom. National language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Wake Island   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 1,730 on Wake Island (1987).
Comments National language. 99% USA military. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Western Samoa   
Language name   ENGLISH
Comments Official language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Zambia   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 41,434 in Zambia (1969 census).
Comments Spoken as mother tongue by Europeans mainly. A small minority of Zambian Africans speak it as a mother tongue. Used as a second language. The only language of Parliament. Official language. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 
Zimbabwe   
Language name   ENGLISH
Population 375,490 in Zimbabwe (1969 census).
Comments Spoken by most Europeans and an increasing number of Africans. Used in all or most education. Official language. Newspapers. Bible 1535-1989. See main entry under United Kingdom.
 

This web edition of the Ethnologue contains all the content of the print edition and may be cited as:
Grimes, Barbara F. (ed.), 2000. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fourteenth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online version: http://www.ethnologue.com/14.

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