The Germanic languages are an Indo-European family of languages spoken by the Germanic peoples. The common ancestor of all Germanic languages is Proto-Germanic, although there may never have been any one Proto-Germanic language, spoken about mid-1st millenium BC in northern Europe. All Germanic languages are characterized by some uniqe features, including the consonant shift called Grimm's law. Germanic languages are first mentioned in history after some Germanic tribes moved south to north-central Europe and came into contact with the Roman Empire.
The most widely spoken Germanic languages today are English and German, with English having possibly over or near 400 million native speakers, and German over 100 million. Also, English is an important international trade language and the most used language of the internet, with many millions of second-language speakers. They belong to the West Germanic branch, which also included the next most spoken Germanic language, Dutch, with 23 million speakers, and then Afrikaans. Living North Germanic languages are Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Icelandic, and Faroese, which together have about 20 million speakers. There are no known living East Germanic languages, although one ancient one is attested - Gothic. There are also many other living, less spoken Germanic languages, including Frisian, Low German, and Scots.