::Germanic languages


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}} The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family spoken natively by a population of approximately 500 million peopleUnknown extension tag "ref" mainly in North America, Oceania, Central Europe, Western and Northern Europe.

The West Germanic branch includes the two most widely spoken Germanic languages: English, with approximately 360–400 million native speakers,<ref name="NE100">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref>Unknown extension tag "ref" and German, with over 100 million native speakers.<ref>SIL Ethnologue (2006). 95 million speakers of Standard German; 105 million including Middle and Upper German dialects; 120 million including Low Saxon and Yiddish.</ref> Other major West Germanic languages are Dutch with 23 million speakers,<ref>Dutch, University College London</ref> Low German with approximately 5 million in Germany<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> and 1.7 million in the Netherlands,<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> and Afrikaans, an offshoot of Dutch, with over 7.2 million.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> The main North Germanic languages are Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Icelandic, and Faroese, which have a combined total of about 20 million speakers.<ref name="Holmberg">Holmberg, Anders and Christer Platzack (2005). "The Scandinavian languages". In The Comparative Syntax Handbook, eds Guglielmo Cinque and Richard S. Kayne. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. Excerpt at Durham University.</ref>

The East Germanic branch included Gothic, Burgundian, and Vandalic, all of which are now extinct. The last to die off was Crimean Gothic, spoken in the late 18th century in some isolated areas of Crimea.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> The SIL Ethnologue lists 48 different living Germanic languages, of which 42 belong to the Western branch, and 6 to the Northern branch.<ref>Ethnologue: Germanic</ref> The total number of Germanic languages through history is unknown, as some of them—especially East Germanic languages—disappeared during or shortly after the Migration Period.

The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic—also known as Common Germanic—which was spoken in approximately the middle-1st millennium BC in Iron Age Scandinavia. Proto-Germanic, along with all of its descendants, is characterized by a number of unique linguistic features, most famously the consonant change known as Grimm's law. Early varieties of Germanic enter history with the Germanic tribes moving south from Scandinavia in the 2nd century BC, to settle in the area of today's northern Germany and southern Denmark.

Germanic languages sections
Intro  Modern status  History  Characteristics  Linguistic developments  Common linguistic features  Writing  See also  Footnotes  Notes  References  External links  

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