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English is a West Germanic language that originated from the Anglo-Frisian dialects brought to Britain by Germanic settlers and auxiliary troops under Roman tutelage from various parts of what is now northwest Germany and the Northern Netherlands.

Initially, Old English was a group of dialects reflecting the varied origins of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms of England. One of these dialects, West Saxon, eventually came to dominate. The original Old English language was then influenced by two waves of invasion. The first was by language speakers of the Scandinavian branch of the Germanic family; they conquered and colonized parts of Britain in the 8th and 9th centuries. The second was the Normans in the 11th century, who spoke a variety of French.

These two invasions caused English to become "mixed" to some degree though it was never a truly mixed language in the strict linguistic sense of the word; mixed languages arise from the cohabitation of speakers of different languages, who develop a hybrid tongue for basic communication.

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