The West Germanic languages include the three most widely spoken Germanic languages: English with around 360–400 million native speakers, German with over 100 million native speakers and Dutch with 23 million native speakers.
Other major West Germanic languages are Afrikaans, an offshoot of Dutch; Low German; Yiddish and Limburgish.
All Germanic languages are thought to be descended from a hypothetical Proto-Germanic language. These probably took place during the Pre-Roman Iron Age of Northern Europe from c. 500 BC. Proto-Germanic itself was likely spoken after c. 500 BC.
The Germanic languages is closely connected with the development of Western civilization.