English is the de facto official language of the United Kingdom, and is widely used albeit in various dialects. This language is a West Germanic language, from the Anglo-Frisian dialects and of Anglic descent which settlers brought to Britain. The English alphabet has 26 letters ,each having an upper and lower case that form the foundation of the language. However, English is not the only language native to the area, as there are other indigenous languages including Scots, Welsh, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Ulster Scots, Cornish and British sign language. There are also numerous other languages spoken in the United Kingdom, many of which have been brought over by those immigrating to the country.

English is prevalent in the entirety of England and Wales, as well as most parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland. It is a majority second language in Isle of Man and Channel Island. Approximately 59.8 million people, accounting for 98% of the population, speak English. About 1.5 million people or 2.6% of the population speak Scots. Welsh speakers are approximately 700,000 which accounts for 1% population. Irish and Scottish Gaelic speakers account for 0.1% each. Ulster Scots and Cornish speakers account for 0.05% and 0.01% respectively. Immigrant and foreign languages speakers account for 4% and 40% respectively.

UK English is unique and sometimes referred to as British English. There is some variation between British English in its written form and the English written in other countries - for example, British English uses the letter "u" in many places that American English does not, such as the word “neighbour” which takes the spelling “neighbor” in American English. The pronunciation of British English also differs with American and other Commonwealth member states who predominantly use British English. However, British English in itself has variations amongst the four countries of the UK, as well as within the countries.

Officially recognized minority languages include: Welsh, which is Celtic by origin and common in the whole of Wales and parts of England near the Welsh border, Scots, that is prevalent in Scotland, Scottish Gaelic which is common in the Scottish Highlands, Ulster Scots which is common in Scotland and Northern Ireland, Cornish which is present in England and Irish that is widespread in Northern Ireland.

This page was last modified on May 1st, 2018

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