I'm referring to Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Denmark.
Will it be possible to add Norway, Sweden, and possibly even Finland and Iceland?
And how about the northern parts of France and Italy?
(I've listed them according to 3 groups which I thought would be easiest to include, and then west to east except for Denmark so as to be mentioned right before the other Scandinavian states, and Iceland because of the leap in distance. I hope I didn't step on anyone's toes.)
In case my question wasn't clear, I was wondering if there are two or three languages which would, with the addition of English, be understood by the vast majority of people in North-Western Europe. It doesn't have to be their first language. For example, perhaps Germany's "official" German would be understood by anyone in the first group (and perhaps the third group as well?) who doesn't understand English, and then some Scandinavian language would be understood by almost everyone in the second group. Or perhaps France's "official" French could be substituted for German, gaining all of France (and northern Italy?) without losing anyone? Or maybe English would be understood by most everyone in the first group, and one Scandinavian language would be understood by the rest? If so, which one? Or maybe English is enough since I'm not asking about carrying long conversations well, just about being understood.
I've already seen As a native English speaker, which two further languages would give me the most travel utility worldwide? but that's worldwide.
A comment says that it "Feels like a flawed question" because I couldn't learn another language as well as the "vast majority of people in NW Europe" know English. Besides the fact that many other answers here say that that (that the vast majority know English) is wrong, and besides the fact that even if that is true, that would simply be the answer (that there is no need for any other language) and not knowing the answer doesn't make a question flawed, it also completely misunderstands the question (by assuming I would like to learn a language that others already know).
From the comments, it seems that some misunderstood the question. So:
- If a person there understands a basic English - I won't need another language to communicate with said person. (I'm not trying to compose a poem for them, just do some basic communication.) I'm asking about additional languages for communication with those who don't understand enough English for a simple conversation.
- If 51% of a country speaks a language I know (e.g. English), that is not the "vast majority" (mentioned in the title). If 51% of the population of a country understands English, that means that in areas out of the tourist areas and big cities one is likely to have a hard time because of lack of a common language.
- Learning a language well can take a lot of time so might be impractical. But learning enough to get by is much faster.