I want to learn multiple languages but looking out for nearest languages to English, only to speak.

I currently speak Hindi, English, Telugu, and Urdu, where Hindi and Urdu are the nearest relatives.


To my knowledge, there does not exist a unique measure for which languages are closest to each other. Some alternatives follow. For purposes of language learning, I think these are a red herring.

However, for purposes of language learning, I would suggest considering Germanic languages, French, and creoles and pidgins of English and picking one based on your interests. They should all be fairly similar to English in some senses and different in others. Also, if your only motivation is to learn another language, why not pick one close to Hindi, Telugu, or Urdu?

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    French is certainly not the easiest for native English speakers. While it's easier then, say, Japanese, it's not even close to being as easy as Afrikaans, for example. Even the scandanavian languages, especially Norwegian and Swedish, are easier for English speakers then French. But to say "Germanic" languages without being specific is fairly useless. Thus, to be specific, it's Afrikaans, Norwegian, Swedish, Dutch, in that order. Germanic is a bit more of a struggle compared to those. Danish reading is okay, but speaking/listening is a chore. – AML Feb 28 '19 at 0:13
  • Akram specified in comments that they were looking specifically for the "nearest" language. I answered from that perspective. I think an answer from a different perspective would be helpful and I encourage you to write it. – Tommi Feb 28 '19 at 6:22

The two closest are, as has been indicated by others, probably Afrikaans and Norwegian. Both of them, however, have pretty low practical utility, as both have comparatively few native speakers (Afrikaans is somewhere around 7.2 million, Norwegian is just above 5 million), each accounting for less than 1% of the world population.

If you want something a bit more practical, Swedish would be my first suggestion. It has:

  • A grammar that is very similar to standard English grammar (ignore English's various exceptions, and the grammars mostly match up).
  • Pronunciation that is reasonably easy to learn with background in English. There are a couple of odd sounds that are tricky for most people, with the best example being the sj sound (it's highly variable between dialects, and it borders on being unique to the Swedish language).
  • A non-negligible amount of shared vocabulary. Old Saxon (part of what Old English came from) shared a lot with Old Norse (what Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian mostly came from), and Swedish has also borrowed a lot of French over the years just like Old English did (though the Swedes usually kept the French pronunciation, only adjusting the spelling, see for example 'butik' or 'oxfilé' as examples). This can also be a tricky part, as some Swedish words don't mean the same thing as their English homophones or homographs ('gift' for example, means something completely different in Swedish from the English meaning, and the English homophone of the Swedish pronunciation means something else completely different).
  • A larger (but not much) population of native speakers than Afrikaans or Norwegian (about 10 million). It's also used more widely than either Afrikaans or Norwegian.

Going a bit further than that in terms of practical utility, German or French would be my next recommendation. Both have much larger populations of native speakers than anything mentioned above, but both are also much further removed from English (fun fact, German is technically closer to English by linguistic taxonomy than anything else I've mentioned, but is less mutually intelligible than with it than Swedish, Afrikaans, and Norwegian). French is particularly painful because of the pronunciation.

Spanish is the last on the list of things I would recommend, it's got very different grammar and vocabulary from English, but the pronunciation is practically trivial compared to anything I've mentioned so far, it's generally one of the easiest languages to learn if you're coming from a background in almost any Indo-European language, and according to data on Ethonlogue it's actually more widely spoken than English in terms of native speakers (English still beats it if you factor in second-language speakers, because English has more second-language speakers than any other language (in fact, there are more people who speak English as a second language than speak any language other than Mandarin as a native language)).


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