Old English (also called Anglo-Saxon, Englisc by its speakers) is an early form of the English language that was spoken and written in parts of what are now England and south-eastern Scotland between the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century. What survives through writing represents primarily the literary register of Anglo-Saxon. It is a West Germanic language and is closely related to Old Frisian. It also experienced heavy influence from Old Norse, a member of the related North Germanic group of languages.
The Germanic languages today are conventionally divided into three linguistic groups: East Germanic, North Germanic, and West Germanic. This division had begun by the 4th cent. A.D. The East Germanic group, to which such dead languages as Burgundian, Gothic, and Vandalic belong, is now extinct. However, the oldest surviving literary text of any Germanic language is in Gothic (see Gothic language).
The North Germanic languages, also called Scandinavian languages or Norse, include Danish, Faeroese, Icelandic, Norwegian, and Swedish. They are spoken by about 20 million people, chiefly in Denmark, the Faeroe Islands, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.
The West Germanic languages are English, Frisian, Dutch, Flemish, Afrikaans, German, and Yiddish. They are spoken as a primary language by about 450 million people throughout the world. Among the dead West Germanic languages are Old Franconian, Old High German, and Old English (or Anglo-Saxon) from which Dutch, German, and English respectively developed.
Modern Germanic languagesGenetically, English belongs to the Germanic or Teutonic group of languages, which is one of the twelve groups of the I-E linguistic family. The Germanic languages in the modern world are as follows:
English – in Great Britain, Ireland, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the South African Republic, and many other former British colonies;
German – in the Germany, Austria, Luxemburg, part of Switzerland;
Netherlandish – in the Netherlands and Belgium (known also as Dutch and Flemish respectively);
Afrikaans – in the South African Republic;
Danish – in Denmark;
Swedish – in Sweden and Finland;
Norwegian – in Norway;
Icelandic – in Iceland;
Frisian – in some regions of the Netherlands and Germany;
Faroese – in the Faroe Islands;
Yiddish – in different countries.