Mutually Intelligible Languages

Steak 'n' Chips   Sat Feb 06, 2010 8:47 pm GMT
It might be worth distinguishing between spoken and written intelligibility. I wouldn't be surprised if, for example, a Spanish speaker could understand much more of written Portuguese than spoken Portuguese, because accent, rhythm and stress variations (or letter-dropping) can be very off-putting.

Is this the case with Slovak and Czech? Does the difficulty lie in the grammar, the structure, the vocabulary, or the way it is spoken?

I'd also be interested to know the degree of mutual intelligibility between the Turkic languages, from Turkey to Turkmenistan to the eastern provinces of China.
John   Sat Feb 06, 2010 8:51 pm GMT
It's crazy to think that because of POLITICS a language can be split up into two, three languages. And then because of politics these "languages" (dialects) will then just go and ignore the other "language".

It's just silly to think that POLITICS decide what is considered a dialect, and what is considered a whole new seperate langauge.
tatra_tiger   Sun Feb 07, 2010 10:57 am GMT
i'm from slovakia, i grew up in the former czechoslovakia, both slovak and czech were official languages. everything - tv, radio, sport - was fifty-fifty, so everyone was naturaly bilingual. since the dissolution of czechoslovakia, the slovak language has been slowly disappearing in czech. rep and nowadays youger generation has some troubes to understand us. well, not so much but they have. but it takes only couple of moments for the to get use to and then it's ok. on the other side, as slovakia is a small market, all the movies are still dubbed into czech for both the countries, we still read foreign books translated into czech (as it's rather useless to translate them into both the languages), we watch sport on the czech channels, recently slovak a czech tvs have started to air first international superstar show (i think it's new idol or so in usa and nouvelle star in france), i heard rumors about miss czecho-slovakia and common czecho-slovak football and hoceky leagues, which would be highly profitable for both the nations. hence, due to the projects like that we are getting "the shots"of each other's language every day)))) i'm originaly from the very northeastern slovaki, close to poland, i grew up watching polish tvs, fairy tales in polish and the dialect spoken in my region (saris region) is very close to the polish language. we have a lok of polish tourist there, people go for shopping across the border and vice versa. polish freely speak polish there as we can freely use our dialect in the border region in poland. we also have ruthenian minority around my region. they are western ukrainians speaking their own dialect that is kinda mixture of polish, ukraninian and eastern slovak dialect. when going to the western ukraine, people can use slovak or our dialects without big probles. on the other hand, people from the southerm slovakia from the hungarian border can have problems understand polish as they don't come to the contact with it. when it goes for the other slavic languages, slovakia due to its position in the center of europe is like esperanto of slavic languages. we can get along with serbians, croatians, russian, polish, ukrainians, with slovenia, too. bulgarian and makedonian are rather different but one can get what they want to say. while, let's say, polish could have troubles understand serbians and they have to use some other common language (english, german, russian maybe...) tu discuss. generaly, understaning other slavic language is, in my opinion, question of how much you want to understand or even if you want to understand. one just has to open the ears, think about the words. i also worked and studied in finland, i learned finnish (well, not so good but i can speak and understand) and now i can understand some estonian but i see a lot of differences.
Just observing   Wed Feb 10, 2010 3:44 am GMT
Swedish, Norwegian, and Danish speakers never used English to communicate to each other but instead use their respective languages. Fortunately for them, they can understand each other well as if the speakers of the other two languages are speaking a mutually intelligible variants or dialects of the languages their using.

I heard that Norwegians and Danish are exposed to Swedish and unintentionally learned the latter that's why they're now beginning to use Skandinavinsk, Swedish based speech with Norwegian and Danish words thrown in.
Boncop   Sat Feb 13, 2010 6:52 am GMT
@ Steak 'n' Chips

Your las post is very true. I'm from Argentina. Written romance languages are ALWAYS easier to undersand by anyone here than spoken ones.

Catalan is almost 90% undertandable in written form. But 70 if spoken slowly and clearly (as in the news), and well below 40 if fast, street like!

Italian is... 50% understandable written, but maintains it's level slightly better than catalan, up to 30 or 20, in spoken form. Especially for us Argentinians since we "sing" the words more like them.

Portuguese is 90% understandable in written form, maybe a little less, 85. But spoken it varies greatly if it is slowly or fast spoken. It can go for as much as 60 to as little as 20, especially if you are unable to see body language. Brazilian portuguese might be harder orally than European.

As for Galician, it's really perfectly midplace between Portuguese and Spanish. I feel it closer to spanish, and I am amazed that Portuguese people can understand it. It's clearer than Catalan, written or spoken.

Differences between South American and Spanish accents are just the same as American and British accents. Pronounce words funny, plus some weird idiom, easy to understand by context.
Boncop   Sat Feb 13, 2010 7:02 am GMT
I also want to say that these mutual intelligibilities are sometimes asymetrical.
sometimes seems easier to understand one way than other. But this may simply reflect the linguistical abilities of the speakers. Both languages become easier to understand very fast under exposure/need. Really fast.

I didn't talk about french.
French is 1-5% understandable if spoken. If spoken fast is always 0%. But written is a lot easier, like 10-15%. Mostly coming from isolated words, usually nouns, some similar endings (...-ment = ...-mente) and stuff like that. Italian is ten times easier to catch. Italian heavy closed dialects not at all. Almost like french sometimes.

Body language also helps an awful lot in these cases.
JGreco   Sun Feb 14, 2010 4:04 am GMT
French is definitely hard to understand when spoken. I would say spoken intelligibility is around 5% while written can be as high as 20% if you also use English to piece the words together.
en   Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:51 pm GMT
>> Italian is... 50% understandable written, but maintains it's leve slightly better than catalan, up to 30 or 20, in spoken form. Especially for us Argentinians since we "sing" the words more like them. <<

Sorry I'm confused. So how well can you understand spoken Italian? Only 20-30%?
Colegiala   Sun Feb 14, 2010 7:13 pm GMT
Tengo que conseguir no pensar en ti
Sola por fin aqui
oyendo en la radio decir que sí
que puede que llueva es saber que no,
que no vas a volver.
Puede pasar que yo me harte de todo
y que mas me da
que importa si lloro
total porqué tu no me vas a ver.

*Me olvidaré de lo que fue
nadie sabrá lo que yo siento
simularé que soy feliz
la procesión irá por dentro
Y soñaré otra vez
me dormire pensando
tengo que conseguir
no pensar en ti.

Creo poder hacer de nuevo el milagro
vivir, sentir como si tal cosa
salir de mi, recuperar la paz
Y a hora quiero pedir perdón
borrarte del todo
buscar valor
huir del pasado
llegar a ser una mujer normal.

Me olvidaré de lo que fue
nadie sabrá lo que yo siento
simularé que soy felíz
la procesión irá por dentro
y soñaré otra vez
me dormiré pensando
tengo que conseguir
no pensasr en tí.
Your name:   Tue Feb 16, 2010 4:29 am GMT
"Italian is... 50% understandable written, but maintains it's leve slightly better than catalan, up to 30 or 20, in spoken form. Especially for us Argentinians since we "sing" the words more like them."

I always had the sensation that Argentinian was some sort of Spanish spoken with an Italian accent. Somewhat nicer than Mexican Spanish IMHO.

"What French word describes the color of this page's background? "

Answer: you ethnicity please? (in French) ONE WORD FOR YOUR RACE?
Your name:   Tue Feb 16, 2010 4:30 am GMT
wow, it works

next time why not "What Navajo word describes the color of this page's background?