Skip to Content

Is English more Latin or Germanic?

English is considered a Germanic language with a large influence from Latin. While some Germanic languages, such as Dutch and German, have remained relatively unchanged and are considered to be more pure Germanic, English has been heavily influenced by Latin.

Latin was introduced in Britain by the Romans in 43 AD, which caused the creation of numerous Latin-derived words in English. Latin words can be seen in fields of science, medicine, law, literature, and even everyday speech.

In addition, the Great Vowel Shift that occurred between 1300-1700 added more Latin characteristics to English and changed the spelling of many words. Thus, although English is classified as a Germanic language, there is a significant presence of Latin features in it as well.

How much of English is actually Germanic?

Around half of the English language is Germanic in origin. The Germanic language group is comprised of languages related to German, Dutch and Frisian; and is said to have first reached Britain during the 4th and 5th centuries.

Subsequently, Germanic languages, such as Old English, were widely spoken in Britain until the Norman Conquest of 1066. Since then, English has become largely a blend of French, Germanic and Latin influences, with a wide range of vocabulary and idioms.

More specifically, many of the core grammatical features and basic vocabulary words of English come from German. For example, some of the frequently used words such as “father”, “daughter”, “brother”, “sister”, and “mother” come from the Germanic language.

Moreover, nearly a third of English words—including many verbs, pronouns, auxiliary verbs, prepositions and adverbs—are said to be from Germanic sources. Furthermore, certain English idiomatic expressions also come from Germanic, e.g.

“to have a head start,” “to have a backbone,” “to get along like a house on fire,” and many more. Therefore, English has heavily borrowed much of its core features, vocabulary and idioms, from Germanic and other related languages, especially Old English, making it the language it is today.