Languages of Europe

I came across an interesting report from the European Commission about the languages of Europe today. It shows the proportions of people who are native speakers each of the official languages of the EU, and how many people speak them well enough to take part in a conversation.

The language with the highest proportion of native speakers is German (24%). In joint second place with 16% each are French, English and Italian, which are followed by Spanish (11%) and Dutch (6%).

About 31% of non-anglophone EU citizens are conversant in English, while French is spoken non-natively by 12%, German by 8%, Spanish by 4% and Italian by 2%.

Otherall, nearly half of the EU’s denizens can speak English, 32% can speak German, 28% can speak French, 18% speak Italian, and 14% speak Spanish.

In some European countries, particularly Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden, at least three quarters of people are able to speak more than one language. While in others, notable the UK, Ireland and Portugal, foreign language abilities are much less common with more than two thirds of people able to speak only their native language.

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This entry was posted in Language, Language learning.

4 Responses to Languages of Europe

  1. Laci the Hun says:

    Let alone Hungary :( most of the people around 40-50 years of age speek only Hungarian. they were forced to learn Russian but the system failed and only a handful of real enthusiasts managed to leran it.
    :D youngsters usually can speak English and/or German or neo-latin languages.

  2. SamD says:

    Dutch, Danish and Swedish are languages that don’t “travel well.” Most of the people who study them as second languages are generally highly interested in languages in general or people whose ancestors came from those countries or deeply love someone who speaks one.

    Native speakers of English have an easier time getting by with only one language than some other people. I suspect that this situation will change over the years.

  3. Polly says:

    Virtually every Armenian I know over the age of 50 claims to speak, or at various times in their lives spoke, English, French, Arabic, Turkish, and Armenian. Furthermore, these are all unrelated languages, the closest relatives being French and English.
    My wife, to my amazement, actually knows an appreciable amount of Turkish herself (I know because I bought a dict. and quizzed her). Add Spanish to the mix and she could, herself, become a polyglot (multiglot?) without even being interested in languages! It would take relatively little additional effort.
    This is totally unfair! :-( There are definitely linguistic advantages to being born in certain parts of the world and definite handicaps to being born in others (e.g. smalltown, USA).

  4. anĂ²nim says:

    This “official language” thing makes me sad. What about the rest of the languages?