West Germanic languages

The West Germanic languages constitute the largest of the three branches of the Germanic family of languages (the others being the North Germanic and the extinct East Germanic languages). The West Germanic branch is classically subdivided into three branches: Ingvaeonic, which includes English and Frisian, Istvaeonic, which includes Dutch and its close relatives, and Irminonic, which includes German and its close relatives and variants.

West Germanic
Originally between the Rhine, Alps, Elbe, and North Sea; today worldwide
Linguistic classificationIndo-European
ISO 639-5gmw
Linguasphere52-AB & 52-AC
Extent of Germanic languages in present day Europe

North Germanic languages


West Germanic languages

Dots indicate areas where multilingualism is common.

English is by far the most-spoken West Germanic language, with more than 1 billion speakers worldwide. Within Europe, the three most prevalent West Germanic languages are English, German, and Dutch. Frisian, spoken by about 450,000 people, constitutes a fourth distinct variety of West Germanic. The language family also includes Afrikaans, Yiddish, Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Scots, which are closely related to Dutch, German and English respectively. Additionally, several creoles, patois, and pidgins are based on Dutch, English, or German.

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