The English language is today a global trade language spoken worldwide. It has a West Germanic origin and it used to be spoken only in England during the early medieval period. Today, it is the official language of almost 60 countries, such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and a number of Caribbean nations. It is the third-most-common native language in the world and it is widely learned as a second language in many countries.
English arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and what is now southeast Scotland. From the 17th to mid-20th centuries, the extensive influence of England, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom through the British Empire caused its propagation around the world. Some of the main ways in which English language was spread were English literature, world media networks, the American film industry and the Internet.
Although English is generally said to have derived from an Old English language, there was really not such a thing. Old English was, instead, a number of closely related dialects that became a fusion and then gave origin to the language we know today.
It was in the 15th century that Modern English arose. Through the assimilation of words from many other languages, both European and from other regions of the world, it gained a very large vocabulary, with complex and irregular spelling. The Oxford English Dictionary lists no less than 250,000 distinct words, not including many technical, scientific, and slang terms.
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