English is the 3rd most spoken language in the world. How is that related with having so many roots. For example English has its roots in western Germanic languages and also it has adopted many words from Latin and Greek. So I have been wondering if having many roots has anything to do with it being one of the most spoken languages.

  • 8
    Didn't you think that the reason can lie not in the linguistic features of English but in the world history and geopolitics? The 1st most spoken language in the world, Mandarin Chinese, has nothing of what you've mentioned in the question.
    – Yellow Sky
    Aug 25, 2020 at 23:15

1 Answer 1


Apart from the size of the native speaker population, the main determinants of how widely a language is spoken are its practical usefulness and its residual prestige.

English is a popular choice as a second language because it is the language of international business and also the native language of information technology. US and UK companies have dominated the global economy for more than a century, so anyone who wants a career in global business. Several multinational companies have made English their official language even though their origins lie outside the Anglosphere and the majority of their employees are not native speakers of English. In addition, US dominance of the IT industries in the last half-century has meant that almost all the terminology in these sectors is based on English.

Latin survived into the 19th century as a prestige language in Europe, partly because of its literary heritage, partly because of its influence on European languages and curricula, and partly because of its use in the Roman Catholic church. French remains a prestige language today because of its literary heritage and its use as the language of diplomacy in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.