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Languages Most Similar to English

Which languages have the highest level of similarity to English (in written form).
Only includes languages which are official in at least one country
Index on a 0 to 100 scale with lower numbers indicating higher similarity
Quiz by Quizmaster
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Last updated: March 12, 2020
First submittedMarch 12, 2020
Times taken13,956
Rating4.23
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Index
Origin
Answer
20.6
Europe
Danish
24.0
Europe
Norwegian
26.7
Europe
Swedish
27.2
Europe
Dutch
27.5
Africa
Afrikaans
29.3
Europe
Luxembourgish
30.8
Europe
German
36.6
Europe
Icelandic
47.8
Europe
Italian
48.7
Europe
French
+11
Level ∞
Mar 12, 2020
Note: Norwegian has two written forms: Bokmål and Nynorsk. The number shown is for Bokmål.
+14
Level 78
Mar 12, 2020
West Frisian is apparently official "in" but not "throughout" the Netherlands, and is often cited as being extremely similar to English.
+3
Level 76
Mar 12, 2020
its extremely similar. Since it has official status, it should be here.
+6
Level ∞
Mar 13, 2020
It is not an official language of the Netherlands.
+6
Level 68
Mar 13, 2020
https://www.government.nl/latest/news/2010/02/12/dutch-language-enshrined-in-the-constitution https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/erkende-talen/vraag-en-antwoord/erkende-talen-nederland Frisian is an official language in (one of the provinces of) the Netherlands, in the Dutch equivalent of the government page it's stated even as such with so many words. I assume you have chosen to ignore languages if they are not the official language of the entire country?
+4
Level 75
Mar 13, 2020
Yeah regional languages or dialects are chosen to be ignored. "In" could be changed to "of" to satisfy pedants.
+3
Level 79
Mar 19, 2020
"Bûter brea en griene tsiis. Wa't dat net sizze kin is gjin oprjochte Fries." My Frisian grandmother taught me that when I was little. My parents grew up speaking Frisian, but had to speak Dutch when they went to school because Frisian was not an official language.
+1
Level 76
Mar 19, 2020
Similar experience to my parents. They were taught in Dutch as soon as they entered school. Now parents can choose to have their children instructed in Frisian until about the 7th grade.
+7
Level 78
Mar 12, 2020
Interesting. Dutch to me and, I always thought most linguists, is more similar to English than any other Germanic language. They have influenced each other to the point that anyone fluent in German and English can learn Dutch fairly quickly. Most people in the Netherlands understand English very well.
+4
Level 66
Mar 13, 2020
Yea it is rather subjective. The source only used a few words to compare, and a lot of times their choice are very surprising. I-ik (dutch) has 0 similarity score, but I-jeg (danish) scores 50. Who- wie (dutch) again scores 0 and who-hvem (danish) scores 33. Most of them I would have scored differently.

And there is so much to take into consideration. Sound matters more than spelling imo and if it is the same word that dropped a part it often is closer than something more different alrogether(english used to use more prefixes like dutch as in feel/feeling-voel/gevoel (dutch) the "ge" has dropped in english (and added -ing). Danish word be feeling-følelse

+5
Level 66
Mar 13, 2020
Read the description. Lower numbers indicates higher similarity
+1
Level 47
Mar 19, 2020
Well, Hines brings up a good point...
+1
Level 44
Mar 12, 2020
I forgot all about Afrikaans. It's surprising how similar an African language is to English!
+12
Level 66
Mar 13, 2020
Afrikaans is basicly dutch, but developed independently and exposed to different influences, so there are some differences (more than between us and uk english though, but still enough recognisable for anyone that know one language but havent studied the other). So while it is a language in africa it is in origin a european language (classified as western-germanic). Like spanish and portuguese in the americas, they are not in europe but that is where the language comes from (though those have stayed similar enough to still be called the same)

only since 1925 it is officially considered a language, before that it was seen as a dutch dialect. (Did not know it's official recognition was this late actually)

+1
Level 78
Mar 19, 2020
South Africa was originally colonized by Dutch farmers.
+1
Level 64
Mar 13, 2020
I'm having trouble believing that Danish is 80% the same as English. If that were the case, I would think that they would be nearly mutually intelligible. I just tried reading the Danish Wikipedia article about Denmark: https://da.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danmark. I only see a few words that are the same (e.g. "land") or close enough to English to be fully recognizable (e.g. "historie"). Am I misinterpreting what it means to be 20% different?
+1
Level ∞
Mar 13, 2020
I think it was me who misinterpreted the source data. Clearly Danish and English are not that similar. I've changed the caveats accordingly.
+1
Level 66
Mar 13, 2020
Curious how it would compare to the dutch wikipedia page for you. I have no doubt it would be more understandable than danish, but hard to estimate the extent of recognition.

Don't ask me how or why but I feel like somehow english is more recognizable to dutch people than dutch is to "english" people, and I don't mean as a result of learning the language or exposure to it, but intuitively. (How it would be in the unrealistic case of zero exposure to the other language)

+1
Level 69
Mar 20, 2020
I knew no Dutch the first time I flew to the Netherlands and yet understood the spoken announcements at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol perfectly. So did my wife, who speaks no German and no Yiddish either.
+1
Level 39
Mar 25, 2020
Dasubergeek, no offense to your language abilities, but those spoken announcements you understood were in English. For those trying to see how similar languages are by Wikipedia, do you know how to pronounce those languages? Would you know that jag in Danish sounds almost exactly like I?
+2
Level 63
Mar 13, 2020
Scots would make the list if official. West Frisian might (but mainly spoken):
Brea, bûter en griene tsiis / Bread, butter and green cheese.
+1
Level 70
Mar 13, 2020
West Frisian is spoken by many people in NE Netherlands and is probably the closest language to English
+4
Level 71
Mar 13, 2020
I blame you, High German consonant shift!
+1
Level 78
Mar 19, 2020
Well, I appreciate this comment.
+2
Level 65
Mar 13, 2020
I had no idea Danish was the most similar to English. Guess I'll just start speaking Danish to English speakers from now on..
+2
Level 75
Mar 13, 2020
Writing, not speaking. Spoken Dutch is way closer than spoken Danish
+1
Level 69
Mar 20, 2020
You'll be arrested for public drunkenness for slurring your words.
+5
Level 64
Mar 13, 2020
I have a really hard time understanding how italian is more similar to english than french. French has a lot of germanic influences and the way of not pronouncing things or pronouncing differently every word is very similar to english.
+3
Level 75
Mar 13, 2020
Pronouncing doesn't count here. Otherwise I agree that French is a lot closer on the whole.
+1
Level 24
Mar 13, 2020
Forgot how to spell Norwegian lol
+1
Level 74
Mar 13, 2020
When, oh when, will I finally learn that it's "Luxembourgish," and not "Luxembourgian"? :-)
+2
Level 26
Mar 19, 2020
one is the language and one is the person :)
+1
Level 77
Mar 20, 2020
Or Luxembourgi as I thought.
+2
Level 69
Mar 20, 2020
We are the Luxem-borg. You will be assimilated.
+1
Level 30
Mar 19, 2020
is this excluding creoles?
+3
Level 49
Mar 19, 2020
I speak Friesian and it is indeed similar to English
+2
Level 41
Mar 19, 2020
You forgot to include American :)
+1
Level 48
Mar 19, 2020
Haha, nice one. XD
+1
Level 47
Mar 19, 2020
Where are Greek and Latin? 1/3 of English came from Greek.
+1
Level 43
Mar 19, 2020
I'm assuming Latin isn't included because there are no native speakers. Greek has a score of 69.9, so it isn't as closely related to English as the other answers.
+1
Level 65
Mar 19, 2020
Also, if it's in writing, Greek has a completely different alphabet. It absolutely influenced the Latin alphabet, but it's different.
+1
Level 44
Mar 19, 2020
Can't be. That language is all greek to them.
+1
Level 25
Mar 19, 2020
Well this explains why so many Scandinavian, German and Dutch people speak English
+1
Level 46
Mar 19, 2020
So I'm Afrikaanian!
+1
Level 54
Mar 19, 2020
Most people don't know that the English people were originally from Denmark.
+1
Level 25
Mar 23, 2020
Mmm...that's assuming no population mixing. Celts, Romans, and many others were on the British Isles as well for some time. I was surprised recently to learn how much of the royalty is foreign, with major French and German dynasties. And like Elizabeth's husband is a Greco-Danish prince?
+1
Level 65
Mar 19, 2020
In case anyone is interested, here's some basic background for where English came from. Old English was the language of the Anglo-Saxons in England until 1066, when French was brought in with the Normans' conquest. The Anglo-Saxons of England (also including Jutes and Frisians) came from the land of northwest Germany, the Netherlands, and Jutland, until they invaded Great Britain and founded various kingdoms that would become England, including Wessex, Mercia, Northumbria, East Anglia, Kent, etc. Since they came from that area of continental Europe, Old English is in the same language family as modern Danish, German, Dutch, Frisian, etc. At the time of Old English, Frisian and English were practically indistinguishable. With French influences, the language evolved into Middle English, which is why we have things like the common example of beef vs cow (cow being Germanic, spoken by the common people referring to the animal and beef being French, spoken by the elite referring to food).
+1
Level 48
Mar 19, 2020
Was very surprised not to see Spanish, Latin, Greek, and French on here.
+1
Level 70
Mar 22, 2020
What's not so much surprising but striking is the non appearance of the languages which have co evolved on the same island for well over 1,000 years - Welsh and Gaelic. No part of Wales is further than about 100 miles from England, yet English has more in common with Italian.
+2
Level 55
Mar 19, 2020
Description says it's written similarity, but the method described in the source uses sound correspondences... Also, if anyone is interested, the numbers here don't really mean all that much. It's more of a proof of concept - i.e., if you set the parameters and methodology /very/ carefully, is it theoretically possible to give a numerical 'relatedness' value for a pair of languages - the answer being yes. Which is pretty cool in a way, but there are a lot more ways a pair of languages can be related, beyond just sound correspondences in a very limited set of words - for instance syntax, morphology, or lexicon. This is why Danish is so surprisingly high despite being so unintelligible to an English speaker. In reality, 'relatedness' is a very complex factor which cannot really be quantified in a helpful way.
+1
Level 22
Mar 19, 2020
cant believe i wrote luxemburgish :/
+1
Level 73
Mar 19, 2020
A weird quiz. Danish is hugely different from English even in written form, yet is supposedly the most similar. I bet no English speaker who doesn't know Danish would ever guess that, for example, Hej, det er meget rart at møde dig means Hello, it is very nice to meet you.
+1
Level 69
Mar 20, 2020
Agreed. "I'm sorry, I just can't remember your name" in Danish is "undskyld, jeg kan ikke lige huske dit navn."
+1
Level 54
Mar 19, 2020
Frisian?
+1
Level 32
Mar 20, 2020
..Italian? Really?
+1
Level 25
Mar 23, 2020
I think the quiz should specify "National, official languages." Because while not guessing Luxembourgian I guessed Frisian, Cornish, Gallic, Gaelic, and Welsh.
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