Home > Linguistics essays > Languages in the United Kingdom

Essay: Languages in the United Kingdom

Essay details and download:

  • Subject area(s): Linguistics essays
  • Reading time: 5 minutes
  • Price: Free download
  • Published: 9 October 2015*
  • File format: Text
  • Words: 1,244 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 5 (approx)

Text preview of this essay:

This page of the essay has 1,244 words. Download the full version above.

One of the first inhabitants of the current UK are the Celts. Celts are a collection of peoples and tribes that during the millennium before the beginning of our era and the centuries thereafter spoke a Celtic language. All Celtic languages descend from a common ancestor, Proto-Celtic, which belongs to the Indo-European. The Indo-European languages, sometimes called Indo-Germanic languages constitute a language family of more than 400 related languages. Indo-European languages are spoken on virtually worldwide. During the first millennium BCE, when the Celtic civilization reached its height, the Celtic languages were spoken across much of Europe.

The Romans expanded around 600 BC their empire across Europe. They settled in the area where the Celtic tribes lived. They spoke their own language, namely Latin. But then at the collapse of the Roman Empire to the early Middle Ages the name Romans increasingly fell into disuse, it was replaced by local own names. The emergence of local dialects and shifts in Latin Latin gradually evolved into various current European languages, the Romance languages.

Settled after the departure of the Romans in 407, during the 5th century and later, several Germanic tribes in England. This group of Germanic tribes, consisting mainly of the Angles and the Saxons called the Anglo-Saxony. It is not known how large their number was exactly, although it is estimated that approximately two hundred thousand Anglo-Saxony made the crossing to the island of Great Britain. In the conquest of the current UK were during the Roman occupation of Brittania Romanized Celts, the Romano-British, driven to the far corners of the island. These were the ancestors of the present inhabitants of Wales and Cornwall. The Saxons settled in the south of the country and the Angles took the largest area: the center and north.

The Angles were a Germanic people from the north of Europe. The people belonged to the Ingaevones (North Sea Germanic). The core of their area was probably the Angeln peninsula in the east of Schleswig. Hence their name. In the 5th century they crossed the North Sea and attacked the current invaded Britain, along with the Saxons. It appears that all members of the tribe crossed during the 5th century, because then there is nowhere on the mainland anything mentioned about them; unlike the Saxons whose descendants still live in their old ancestral countries.

The Saxons were a group of Germanic tribes who during the late Roman period and the early Middle Ages were on the North German Plain. The vast majority of the Saxons remained in what is now Germany and offered resistance to the expanding Frankish Empire. The other part went to the current UK. The earliest residential area of Saxony was probably North Albingi??.

Their area covered about the size of what is now southern Schleswig-Holstein. This is the same area where the Angles lived before they left for Britain. Afbeelding

In 1066 there was a battle fought between the Norman-French army led by Duke William II of Normandy and an army led by the Anglo-Saxon King Harold II. The Battle of Hastings, which is named after the English town of Hastings where the battle took place. The outcome of the battle was a decisive Norman victory, the first and most important step in the Norman conquest of England. The Normans were originally Vikings or Norsemen. The Vikings or Norsemen were Germans from Scandinavia who spoke a North Germanic language, and from about 800 large-scale raids and pillaging under names in Europe. Their leader Rollo got 911 in the duchy of Normandy in hands. The Normans, who spoke a language with French and Scandinavian influences, and the Anglo-Saxony eventually melted into one group with their own language, Anglo-Saxon or Englisc. This was the first form of the English language and is now seen as the Old English. Over the years, the language has evolved into the English language we know today.

What is the difference in language (dialects, accents, use of words) within the country?

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a state located east from The Netherlands, in the North Sea. The state consist of four countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Every country has its own culture and way to speak English. For people who speak the English language well it is not hard to tell where someone comes from, because of the big difference in the language. Just as the differences in the English language between the United Kingdom, America and Australia, have the four countries each another history. In the following paragraphs there will be more information about the four other official languages from the countries in the United Kingdom.


In the third century A.D. the Celtic language, was introduced in Scotland. Originally the language comes from ireland, but ih a matter of time Celtic was the most spoken language in Scotland. But since the 11th centuary, the the use of the language gradually decreased. Eventually the Brittish gouverment decided in 1872, that Celtic was no longer an officially language and those who spoke it were being punished. Nowadays, rarely 80.000 Scots consider Celtic as their motherlanguage. Those people live maily on the islands on the Westcoast. Further decline of the language seems now reversed by the introduction of bilingual education (Celtic and English) and subsidizing of radio broadcasts in Celtic.
Generally civilized Scottish differs from English by word usage, sentence structure and accent whose rolling ‘r’ is the most famous feature.


The vaiation of English spoken in England is Cornish. Cornish is mainly spoken in Cornwall, which is a governmental county in England. This language died in the 18th or early 19th century, but came in the 20th century back to life. An extensive search for remaining speakers in the 18th century had only one person who completed Cornish could speak fluently: Dorothy Pentreath (1692-1777). When she died in 1778, it has long been regarded as the final death of the language. Dolly Pentreath was for this reason a large tomb. Around 1900 Henry Jenner developed his version of what he called the “unitary Cornish”, relying on a small number of medieval plays, which resulted in 1958 in a textbook Cornish for All, written by his follower Robert Morton Nance. In 2011, the language spoken by a few thousand people and a number of people under thirty is even brought up with the language. There are radio stations, newspapers and movies with portions in Cornish (albeit rarely complete in Cornish) and there is a certain amount of literature in the language. An Gannas is the only fully Cornish magazine. In 2002 the Council of Europe, the Cornish recognized as an official minority language.


Welsh is, just as Scottish, also a Celtic language and is mainly spoken in Wales by a part of the Welsh. It is known by Greek texts in 9th century. The language belongs to the Celtic languages and is related to Irish Gaelic, Breton, Cornish, Manx and Scottish Gaelic. It is written in the Welsh version of the Latin alphabet. All over the world, there are about 800.000 people speaking Welsh. Most in Wales, but also in England, Argentina, the United States and Canada. Most Welsh speaking people are bilingual. Welsh is spoken mainly in the countryside of Wales, in the north and in the west.

This language is often part of the teaching language in primary schools. Several speculations going around about the meaning of ‘Welsh’. In different languages ‘Welsh’ would mean ‘foreign’ or ‘strange’. But in the end turns out to

...(download the rest of the essay above)

About this essay:

If you use part of this page in your own work, you need to provide a citation, as follows:

Essay Sauce, Languages in the United Kingdom. Available from:<https://www.essaysauce.com/linguistics-essays/essay-languages-in-the-united-kingdom/> [Accessed 29-02-24].

These Linguistics essays have been submitted to us by students in order to help you with your studies.

* This essay may have been previously published on Essay.uk.com at an earlier date.