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Of the approximately 45 million Europeans speaking non-Indo-European languages, most speak languages within either the Uralic or Turkic families. Still smaller groups (such as Basque and various languages of the Caucasus) account for less than 1% of the European population between them. Immigration has added sizeable communities of speakers of African and Asian languages, amounting to about 4% of the population, with Arabic being the most widely spoken of them.
Low German (or Low Saxon) is spoken in various regions throughout Northern Germany and the northern and eastern parts of the Netherlands. It is an official language in Germany. It may be separated into West Low German and East Low German.
English has a long history of contact with Scandinavian languages, given the immigration of Scandinavians early in the history of Britain, and shares various features with the Scandinavian languages. Even so, especially Swedish, but also Danish and Norwegian, have strong vocabulary connections to the German language.
Political map of Europe with countries where the national language is Slavic. Pale green represents West Slavic languages, wood green represents East Slavic languages, and dark green represents South Slavic languages.
Continental Celtic languages had previously been spoken across Europe from Iberia and Gaul to Asia Minor, but became extinct in the first millennium AD.
The Indo-Aryan languages have one major representation: Romani (c. 1.5 million speakers), introduced in Europe during the late medieval period. Lacking a nation state, Romani is spoken as a minority language throughout Europe.
Oghur languages were historically indigenous to much of Eastern Europe; however, most of them are extinct today, with the exception of Chuvash, which is spoken in Chuvashia.
The Basque language (or Euskara, c. 750,000) is a language isolate and the ancestral language of the Basque people who inhabit the Basque Country, a region in the western Pyrenees mountains mostly in northeastern Spain and partly in southwestern France of about 3 million inhabitants, where it is spoken fluently by about 750,000 and understood by more than 1.5 million people. Basque is directly related to ancient Aquitanian, and it is likely that an early form of the Basque language was present in Western Europe before the arrival of the Indo-European languages in the area in the Bronze Age.
Several dozen manual languages exist across Europe, with the most widespread sign language family being the Francosign languages, with its languages found in countries from Iberia to the Balkans and the Baltics. Accurate historical information of sign and tactile languages is difficult to come by, with folk histories noting the existence signing communities across Europe hundreds of years ago. British Sign Language (BSL) and French Sign Language (LSF) are probably the oldest confirmed, continuously-spoken sign languages. Alongside German Sign Language (DGS) according to Ethnologue, these three have the most numbers of signers, though very few institutions take appropriate statistics on contemporary signing populations, making legitimate data hard to find.
Notably, few European sign languages have overt connections with the local majority/oral languages, aside from standard language contact and borrowing, meaning grammatically the sign languages and the oral languages of Europe are quite distinct from one another. Due to (visual/aural) modality differences, most sign languages are named for the larger ethnic nation in which they are spoken, plus the words "sign language", rendering what is spoken across much of France, Wallonia and Romandy as French Sign Language or LSF for: langue des signes française.
Recognition of non-oral languages varies widely from region to region. Some countries afford legal recognition, even to official on a state level, whereas others continue to be actively suppressed.
In the Middle Ages the two most important defining elements of Europe were Christianitas and Latinitas.
The earliest dictionaries were glossaries: more or less structured lists of lexical pairs (in alphabetical order or according to conceptual fields). The Latin-German (Latin-Bavarian) Abrogans was among the first. A new wave of lexicography can be seen from the late 15th century onwards (after the introduction of the printing press, with the growing interest in standardisation of languages).
The first languages whose standardisation was promoted included Italian (questione della lingua: Modern Tuscan/Florentine vs. Old Tuscan/Florentine vs. Venetian -> Modern Florentine + archaic Tuscan + Upper Italian), French (the standard is based on Parisian), English (the standard is based on the London dialect) and (High) German (based on the dialects of the chancellery of Meissen in Saxony, Middle German, and the chancellery of Prague in Bohemia ("Common German")). But several other nations also began to develop a standard variety in the 16th century.
Europe has had a number of languages that were considered linguae francae over some ranges for some periods according to some historians. Typically in the rise of a national language the new language becomes a lingua franca to peoples in the range of the future nation until the consolidation and unification phases. If the nation becomes internationally influential, its language may become a lingua franca among nations that speak their own national languages. Europe has had no lingua franca ranging over its entire territory spoken by all or most of its populations during any historical period. Some linguae francae of past and present over some of its regions for some of its populations are:
Vulgar Latin and Late Latin among the uneducated and educated populations respectively of the Roman Empire and the states that followed it in the same range no later than 900 AD; Medieval Latin and Renaissance Latin among the educated populations of western, northern, central and part of eastern Europe until the rise of the national languages in that range, beginning with the first language academy in Italy in 1582/83; new Latin written only in scholarly and scientific contexts by a small minority of the educated population at scattered locations over all of Europe; ecclesiastical Latin, in spoken and written contexts of liturgy and church administration only, over the range of the Roman Catholic Church.
Lingua Franca or Sabir, the original of the name, an Italian-based pidgin language of mixed origins used by maritime commercial interests around the Mediterranean in the Middle Ages and early Modern Age.
The main scripts used in Europe today are the Latin and Cyrillic.
The Greek alphabet was derived from the Phoenician alphabet, and Latin was derived from the Greek via the Old Italic alphabet. In the Early Middle Ages, Ogham was used in Ireland and runes (derived from Old Italic script) in Scandinavia. Both were replaced in general use by the Latin alphabet by the Late Middle Ages. The Cyrillic script was derived from the Greek with the first texts appearing around 940 AD.
Around 1900 there were mainly two typeface variants of the Latin alphabet used in Europe: Antiqua and Fraktur. Fraktur was used most for German, Estonian, Latvian, Norwegian and Danish whereas Antiqua was used for Italian, Spanish, French, Polish, Portuguese, English, Romanian, Swedish and Finnish. The Fraktur variant was banned by Hitler in 1941, having been described as "Schwabacher Jewish letters". Other scripts have historically been in use in Europe, including Phoenician, from which modern Latin letters descend, Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs on Egyptian artefacts traded during Antiquity, various runic systems used in Northern Europe preceding Christianisation, and Arabic during the era of the Ottoman Empire.
Hungarian rovás was used by the Hungarian people in the early Middle Ages, but it was gradually replaced with the Latin-based Hungarian alphabet when Hungary became a kingdom, though it was revived in the 20th century and has certain marginal, but growing area of usage since then.
The European Union (as of 2016) had 28 member states accounting for a population of 510 million, or about 69% of the population of Europe.
The European Union has designated by agreement with the member states 24 languages as "official and working": Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish and Swedish. This designation provides member states with two "entitlements": the member state may communicate with the EU in any of the designated languages, and view "EU regulations and other legislative documents" in that language.
The European Union and the Council of Europe have been collaborating in education of member populations in languages for "the promotion of plurilingualism" among EU member states. The joint document, "Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment (CEFR)", is an educational standard defining "the competencies necessary for communication" and related knowledge for the benefit of educators in setting up educational programs.
In a 2005 independent survey requested by the EU's Directorate-General for Education and Culture regarding the extent to which major European languages were spoken in member states. The results were published in a 2006 document, "Europeans and Their Languages", or "Eurobarometer 243". In this study, statistically relevant[clarification needed][Do you mean "significant"?] samples of the population in each country were asked to fill out a survey form concerning the languages that they spoke with sufficient competency "to be able to have a conversation".
The list is intended to include any language variety with an ISO 639 code. However, it omits sign languages. Because the ISO-639-2 and ISO-639-3 codes have different definitions, this means that some communities of speakers may be listed more than once. For instance, speakers of Bavarian are listed both under "Bavarian" (ISO-639-3 code bar) as well as under "German" (ISO-639-2 code de).
Languages spoken in Turkey, Cyprus, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia
There are various definitions of Europe, which may or may not include all or parts of Turkey, Cyprus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. For convenience, the languages and associated statistics for all five of these countries are grouped together on this page, as they are usually presented at a national, rather than subnational, level.
^Counelis, James Steve (March 1976). "Review [untitled] of Ariadna Camariano-Cioran, Les Academies Princieres de Bucarest et de Jassy et leur Professeurs". Church History. 45 (1): 115-116. doi:10.2307/3164593. JSTOR3164593. ...Greek, the lingua franca of commerce and religion, provided a cultural unity to the Balkans...Greek penetrated Moldavian and Wallachian territories as early as the fourteenth century.... The heavy influence of Greek culture upon the intellectual and academic life of Bucharest and Jassy was longer termed than historians once believed.
^Wansbrough, John E. (1996). "Chapter 3: Lingua Franca". Lingua Franca in the Mediterranean. Routledge.
^ abCalvet, Louis Jean (1998). Language wars and linguistic politics. Oxford [England]; New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 175-76.
^Facsimile of Bormann's Memorandum (in German)
The memorandum itself is typed in Antiqua, but the NSDAPletterhead is printed in Fraktur. "For general attention, on behalf of the Führer, I make the following announcement: It is wrong to regard or to describe the so-called Gothic script as a German script. In reality, the so-called Gothic script consists of Schwabach Jew letters. Just as they later took control of the newspapers, upon the introduction of printing the Jews residing in Germany took control of the printing presses and thus in Germany the Schwabach Jew letters were forcefully introduced. Today the Führer, talking with Herr Reichsleiter Amann and Herr Book Publisher Adolf Müller, has decided that in the future the Antiqua script is to be described as normal script. All printed materials are to be gradually converted to this normal script. As soon as is feasible in terms of textbooks, only the normal script will be taught in village and state schools. The use of the Schwabach Jew letters by officials will in future cease; appointment certifications for functionaries, street signs, and so forth will in future be produced only in normal script. On behalf of the Führer, Herr Reichsleiter Amann will in future convert those newspapers and periodicals that already have foreign distribution, or whose foreign distribution is desired, to normal script".
"Not the dominant language for most. Formerly the main language of Sephardic Jewry. Used in literary and music contexts."
ca. 100k speakers in total, most of them in Israel, small communities in the Balkans, Greece, Turkey and in Spain.
^ ab2.6 million cited as estimate of all Germans who speak Platt "well or very well" (including L2; 4.3 million cited as the number of all speakers including those with "moderate" knowledge) in 2009. Heute in Bremen. ,,Ohne Zweifel gefährdet". Frerk Möller im Interview, taz, 21. Februar 2009.
However, Wirrer (1998) described Low German as "moribund".Jan Wirrer: Zum Status des Niederdeutschen. In: Zeitschrift für Germanistische Linguistik. 26, 1998, S. 309. The number of native speakers is unknown, estimated at 1 million by SIL Ethnologue. Low German at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015), Westphalian at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
^The question whether Low German should be considered as subsumed under "German" as the official language of Germany has a complicated legal history. In the wake of the ratification of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (1998), Schleswig-Holstein has explicitly recognized Low German as a regional language with official status (§ 82b LVwG).
^total 22,000 native speakers (2010 Russian census) out of an ethnic population of 44,000. Most of these are in Siberia, with about 8,000 ethnic Nenets in European Russia (2010 census, mostly in Nenets Autonomous Okrug)
^Occitan at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015).
Includes Auvergnat, Gascon, Languedocien, Limousin, Provençal, Vivaro-Alpine. Most native speakers are in France; their number is unknown, as varieties of Occitan are treated as French dialects with no official status.
^Total 570,000, of which 450,000 in the Russian Federation. Ossetian at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
^ abL1: 119 million in the Russian Federation (of which c. 83 million in European Russia), 14.3 million in Ukraine, 6.67 million in Belarus, 0.67 million in Latvia, 0.38 million in Estonia, 0.38 million in Moldova.
L1+L2: c. 100 million in European Russia, 39 million in Ukraine, 7 million in Belarus, 7 million in Poland, 2 million in Latvia, c. 2 million in the European portion of Kazakhstan, 1.8 million in Moldova, 1.1 million in Estonia. Russian at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015).
^Tat at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015), Judeo-Tat at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
2,000 speakers in the Russian Federation according to the 2010 census (including Judeo-Tat). About 28,000 speakers in Azerbaijan; most speakers live along or just north of the Caucasus ridge (and are thus technically in Europe), with some also settling just south of the Caucasus ridge, in Transcaucasia.
^SIL Ethnologue gives estimates, broken down by dialect group, totalling 31 million, but with the caveat of "Very provisional figures for Northern Kurdish speaker population". Ethnologue estimates for dialect groups:
Northern: 20.2M (undated; 15M in Turkey for 2009),
Central: 6.75M (2009),
Southern: 3M (2000),
Laki: 1M (2000).
The Swedish Nationalencyklopedin listed Kurdish in its "Världens 100 största språk 2007" (The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007), citing an estimate of 20.6 million native speakers.
^Thede Kahl (2006): The islamisation of the Meglen Vlachs (Megleno-Romanians): The village of Nânti (Nótia) and the "Nântinets" in present-day Turkey, Nationalities Papers, 34:01, p80-81: "Assuming that nearly the total population of Nânti emigrated, then the number of emigrants must have been around 4,000. If the reported number of people living there today is added, the whole Meglen Vlachs population is c. 5,000. Although that number is only a rough estimate and may be exaggerated by the individual interviewees, it might correspond to reality."
^Özkan, Hakan (2013). "The Pontic Greek spoken by Muslims in the villages of Be?köy in the province of present-day Trabzon". Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies. 37 (1): 130-150. doi:10.1179/0307013112z.00000000023.