Still thinking about languages and their differences, I was recently reminded that, while English is a Germanic language, and this is reflected in its structure, about 60% of its vocabulary has Latin origin, mostly through French. So that’s why it feels (to me) much more familiar than, say, German or Norwegian, and why I have learned English relatively easily, while I still struggle to pronounce a coherent sentence in German.
This is likely also the reason — together with its relatively easy grammar, and of course its economic importance — for its success and global spread. It is like a bridge between Romance and Germanic languages, or Southern and Northern Europe.
That double source from its words is also what gives it a lot of variety, and why it has become one of the greatest literary languages, rivalling only with French and perhaps Italian. French and Italian sound perhaps more melodious, but English has some other qualities that make it more versatile.
I talked about Jorge Luis Borges before, and Borges was, not only a great fan of the current English language (he once said he learned it before Spanish), but also a student of Old English or Anglo-Saxon, which is much more clearly Germanic than current English, before the influence of Norman (i.e. French) – and therefore, much harder.