Ethnologue: Areas: Europe

United Kingdom

58,210,000 (1995). United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Literacy rate 97% to 99%. Also includes Assyrian Neo-Aramaic 5,000, Bengali, Hakka Chinese, Mandarin Chinese, Yue Chinese, Western Farsi 12,000, Greek 200,000, Gujarati 140,000, Hindi, Italian 200,000, Japanese 12,000, Kurmanji 6,000, Malayalam, Panjabi, Pashto, Saraiki, Shelta 30,000, Somali, Sylhetti 100,000, Tamil, Turkish 60,000, Urdu, Vietnamese 22,000, 74,000 from the Philippines, 150,000 Arabic (Iraqi, Moroccan, Yemeni), others from Ghana, Nigeria, Guyana, West Indies. Data accuracy estimate: B. Christian, secular, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu. Blind population 116,414. Deaf population 909,000 (1977 Deuchar). Deaf institutions: 468 in England, 2 in Northern Ireland, 14 in Scotland, 34 in Wales. The number of languages listed for United Kingdom is 15. Of those, 12 are living languages, 1 is a second language without mother tongue speakers, and 2 are extinct.

ANGLOROMANI (ENGLISH ROMANI, ROMANI ENGLISH, ROMANICHAL, POGADI CHIB, POSH 'N' POSH) [RME] 90,000 in Britain (1990 I. Hancock); 75,000 in USA; 5,000 in Australia; 170,000 to 270,000 or more in all countries. England, Wales, Scotland. Also in South Africa. Indo-European, Germanic, West, North Sea, English. Angloromani not inherently intelligible with Welsh Romani, Traveller Swedish, Traveller Norwegian, or Traveller Danish. The grammar is basically English with heavy Romani lexical borrowing. Many dialects. It has been spoken in the United Kingdom for 500 years. "The Romanichal population must be considered as being more actively determined to retain the ethnic language than some other British minorities." (I. Hancock). Selections 1979. Work in progress.

BRITISH SIGN LANGUAGE (BSL) [BHO] 40,000 mother tongue users (1984 Deuchar); out of 909,000 deaf, of which the majority probably have some degree of sign language competence (1977 Deuchar). United Kingdom including Northern Ireland, Scotland. Deaf sign language. Unintelligible with American Sign Language. There is increasing desire to train deaf children in BSL. Good regional and national organizations for the deaf. The deaf community is cohesive, so communication is good despite regional differences. However, there are many reports of different unintelligible sign languages approximately every 50 miles. TV use of BSL is elevating its status, promoting acceptance, decreasing regional varieties. Signed interpretation is required in court, and provided in some other situations. Sign language instruction for parents of deaf children. Many sign language classes for hearing people. There is an organization for sign language teachers. There is a committee on national sign language. Sign language was used before 1644. Deaf schools were established in the late 18th century. British Signed English is distinct from American Signed English. Dictionary. Grammar. Films and video. Work in progress.

CORNISH [CRN] 150 fluent speakers (1990 Wall Street Journal). A few thousand have studied it. Southwest England (Cornwall). Indo-European, Celtic, Insular, Brythonic. It became extinct as a first language in 1777. It is now being revived. Church services are still held in Cornish. There are evening classes, correspondence courses, summer camps, children's play groups. It is taught in some schools. Two spelling systems are in use. There is a Cornish Language Board. All speakers are fluent in English. Bible portions 1936. Second language only. No mother tongue speakers.

ENGLISH [ENG] 55,000,000 first language speakers in United Kingdom (1984 estimate); 322,000,000 in all countries, first language speakers (1995 WA); 470,000,000 including second language speakers (1995 WA). Also in USA, Canada, other former colonies, many countries. Indo-European, Germanic, West, North Sea, English. Dialects: COCKNEY, SCOUSE, GEORDIE, WEST COUNTRY, EAST ANGLIA, BIRMINGHAM, SOUTH WALES, EDINBURGH, BELFAST, CORNWALL, CUMBERLAND, CENTRAL CUMBERLAND, DEVONSHIRE, EAST DEVONSHIRE, DORSET, DURHAM, BOLTON LANCASHIRE, NORTH LANCASHIRE, RADCLIFFE LANCASHIRE, NORTHUMBERLAND, NORFOLK, NEWCASTLE NORTHUMBERLAND, TYNESIDE NORTHUMBERLAND, LOWLAND SCOTTISH, SOMERSET, SUSSEX, WESTMORLAND, NORTH WILTSHIRE, CRAVEN YORKSHIRE, NORTH YORKSHIRE, SHEFFIELD YORKSHIRE, WEST YORKSHIRE. 60% lexical similarity with German, 27% with French, 24% with Russian. National language. Typology: SVO. Christian. Braille Bible. Bible 1382-1989. NT 1380-1995. Bible portions 1530-1995.

FRENCH [FRN] 14,000 in England (1976 Stephens); 72,000,000 in all countries (1995 WA). Channel Islands. Indo-European, Italic, Romance, Italo-Western, Western, Gallo-Romance. Dialects: JERRIAIS, DGERNESIAIS. Official language on Channel Islands. French is only spoken by about 11% of the population of Channel Islands, mainly older people. National language. Bible 1530-1986. NT 1474-1980. Bible portions 1483-1987.

GAELIC, IRISH (IRISH, ERSE) [GLI] (260,000 in Ireland; 1983). Belfast and counties of Fermanagh and Armagh, Northern Ireland. Also in USA. Indo-European, Celtic, Insular, Goidelic. Spoken by only a few in isolated districts in Northern Ireland. Bible 1685-1989. NT 1602-1951. Bible portions 1913-1976.

GAELIC, SCOTS (GAELIC) [GLS] 88,892 including 477 monolinguals, 88,415 bilinguals in Scotland (1971 census); 5,000 in Canada (1976 Stephens); 94,000 in all countries. North and central counties of Ross, Islands of Hebrides and Skye. Also in Nova Scotia and Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island, Canada; and New South Wales, Australia. Indo-European, Celtic, Insular, Goidelic. Dialect: EAST SUTHERLANDSHIRE. In some communities it is primarily used in the home, in church, and for social purposes. Two newspapers carry news in Gaelic. Books and journals are produced on various topics. In bilingual areas Gaelic is usually the first language of instruction for most primary subjects. In the 1971 census 50% of all speakers could read Gaelic. Church Gaelic is based on the Perthshire dialect of 200 years ago, and is at a distance from spoken dialects. East Sutherlandshire dialect is so different from other spoken dialects as to be a barrier to communication. Regular radio broadcasts in New South Wales and Victoria, Australia. Typology: VSO. Braille code available. Bible 1801-1991. NT 1767-1875. Bible portions 1684-1991.

MANX [MJD] Isle of Man, part of the British Isles, a Crown Dependency, with its own Parliament, laws, currency, and taxation. The United Kingdom represents the Isle of Man at the United Nations. Indo-European, Celtic, Insular, Goidelic. Extinct during this century as a first language. There are efforts to revive it. Second language for 200 to 300 who have mainly learned it as adults. Used for some public functions. Bible 1773. NT 1767-1775. Bible portions 1748-1767.

OLD KENTISH SIGN LANGUAGE [OKL] Kent. Deaf sign language. The apparent ancestor of Martha's Vineyard Sign Language. Extinct.

POLARI [PLD] Unclassified. An in-group language among theatrical and circus people. Survey needed.

ROMANI, VLACH (ROMENES, ROM, TSIGANE) [RMY] 1,500,000 in all countries (1986 estimate). Also in Romania, Poland, Hungary, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Slovakia, Ukraine, Moldova, Russia, Portugal, Spain, Norway, Sweden, France, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Colombia, USA. Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Central zone, Romani, Vlax. Dialects: KALDERASH, LOVARI. Vlach and Kalderash are understood by the Lovari. A Gypsy language. Christian. NT 1984-1995. Bible portions 1930-1986.

ROMANI, WELSH [RMW] England and Wales. Indo-European, Indo-Iranian, Indo-Aryan, Central zone, Romani, Northern, British. A Gypsy language. Not inherently intelligible with Angloromani. Ethnic groups: Volshanánge, Kalá. Christian. Survey needed.

SCOTS [SCO] Scotland, lowlands: Aberdeen to Ayrshire. Indo-European, Germanic, West, North Sea, English. Magazine: Lallans. Dictionary in progress (1986). NT 1901-1983.

TRAVELLER SCOTTISH (SCOTTISH CANT, SCOTTISH TRAVELLER CANT) [TRL] 4,000 in Scotland; 4,000 in USA (1990 I. Hancock). Also in Australia. Unclassified. A blend language of High Romani and Elizabethan Cant. The earliest texts go back to the sixteenth century. Not Gypsies. Nomadic in Scotland. In USA they travel but have a fixed base. Survey needed.

WELSH (CYMRAEG) [WLS] 575,102 including 32,700 monolinguals, 542,402 bilinguals (1971 census); 3,160 in Canada (1971 census); 580,000 in all countries. Northern and western Wales. Indo-European, Celtic, Insular, Brythonic. Use being encouraged in schools. Literature being produced. Patagonian dialect was spoken in Chile and Argentina in 1891. National language. Typology: VSO. Braille code available. Bible 1588-1988. NT 1567-1936. Bible portions 1567-1855.


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Part of the Ethnologue, 13th Edition, Barbara F. Grimes, Editor.
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