The official language of the United Kingdom is English which is spoken by 98% of the population. Other recognised living languages include Scottish Gaelic, Irish, Welsh and Cornish all of which are indigenous languages of the U.K.
English first appeared in Britain in the 5th century when the Anglo-Saxons invaded. This first form of English was called Old English and was mainly spoken in what is now England and some southern parts of Scotland. This form of English continued to be used up until the Norman Conquest in the 11th century where it then developed into Middle English.
It was at this point that the English language adopted many French and Latin influences which can still be seen in words used today. At this point in England's history English was seen as a common language and was only used by the lower class. The language of the court and gentry was French and all legal documents and court proceedings took place in either French or Latin.
Early Modern English began appearing in the late 15th century with the introduction of the printing press to London and the publishing of the King James bible which was previously only available in Latin. Suddenly English became much more accessible and as a result started to spread throughout the United Kingdom. Old Celtic languages began to die out and by the 17th century English was the first language of the majority of the nation.
Of the minority Celtic languages spoken, 1.4% speak Scottish Gaelic, 6.6% speak Irish Gaelic and 2.1% speak Welsh which is the only Celtic language that enjoys official status.
In recent years large numbers of community languages have been brought into the country by immigrants, which account for more than 5.5% of the population. The largest group which is spoken by 2.7% of the total UK population are South Asian languages like Punjabi, Bengali, Hindi and Gujarati. Other widely spoken community languages include, Polish, Cantonese, Turkish, Italian and Greek.
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