In linguistics , mutual intelligibility or intercomprehension is the relationship between languages in which speakers of different but related languages can understand each other relatively easily, without intentional studies or extraordinary efforts. It is sometimes used as a criterion to distinguish languages from dialects, although sociolinguistic factors are also important.
The intelligibility between languages can be asymmetric, when the speaker of one language understands the speakers of another, but without the opposite occurring. It is when it is relatively symmetrical that it is characterized as “mutual”. It exists to varying degrees among many related languages or geographically close to the world, often in the context of a dialect continuity .
Intelligibility, within all languages, can vary between individuals or groups within a certain population, according to their knowledge of the etymology and vocabulary of their own language, their interest and familiarity with other languages, the domain of conversation, psycho traits cognitive , the mode of communication used (written and / or oral), among others.
- 1Mutually intelligible languages or varieties of languages
- 2Asymmetric intelligibility
- 3List of mutually intelligible languages
- 1Written and spoken form
- 2Spoken form only
- 3Written form only
- 4Dialects or records of a language sometimes considered separate languages
- 4Dialect continuum
- 5See also
Mutually intelligible languages or varieties of languages [ edit | edit source code ]
There is no formal distinction between two different languages and two varietiesof a single language, but linguists generally use mutual intelligibility as one of the decisive factors in choosing one of the two cases. Some linguists consider mutual intelligibility as the primary criterion for distinguishing languages from dialects. On the other hand, speakers of geographically related languages can communicate to a considerable degree, even though they have different degrees of mutual intelligibility. As an example, in the case of a linear chain of dialects that has three varieties, where speakers close to the center can understand the varieties of both extremes, but the extremes do not have the same privilege, and a single language is not considered such chain. If the central variety disappears and only those at the extremities survive, they will be considered two different languages,
In addition, political and social conventions often destroy considerations of mutual intelligibility. For example, the Chinese and Arabic varieties are considered to be a single language, although there is no mutual intelligibility between some of these variants. In contrast, there is a significant mutual intelligibility between different Scandinavian languages , but since each has its own standard format, they are classified as different languages. To deal with conflict in cases such as Arabic, Chinese and German, the term “ Dachsprache ” is sometimes seen (a sociolinguistic “umbrella” language)). Arabic, Chinese and German are languages in the sociolinguistic sense, even if some speakers cannot understand each other without the help of some resource.
Asymmetric intelligibility [ edit | edit source code ]
Asymmetric intelligibility is an expression used by linguists to describe two languages that are mutually intelligible, but when one group has greater difficulty in understanding than the other. There may be several reasons for this. For example, if one language is related to another, but has a simplified grammar, speakers of the original language may understand the simplified language, but not the other way around.
In other cases, two languages have a similar form of writing, but are spoken differently. If the spoken form of one of the languages is more like the common form of writing, speakers of the other language may understand that language more than the other way around. This can be seen in the circumstance that the Portuguese-speaking peoples understand the Spanish language more easily than the Spanish-speaking peoples understand the Portuguese language, since some letters (eg ‹aeiourns›) in the Spanish language tend to have only one pronunciation ( or if there are several pronunciations, they are similar), while in Portuguese the pronunciation depends on the context and the position within a word.
However, perhaps the most common reason for the apparent asymmetric intelligibility is that speakers of one variety are more exposed to another variety than vice versa. For example, Scottish English speakers have greater exposure to American English through films and television programs, while American English speakers have little exposure to Scottish English. Therefore, American English speakers generally have a hard time understanding Scottish English, while Scottish English speakers have little difficulty understanding American English.
In some cases it is difficult to distinguish mutual intelligibility and basic knowledge of a language. Many Belarusians and Ukrainians have advanced knowledge of the Russian language and use it as a second language. So they can easily understand Russian, and native Russians partially understand Belarusian and Ukrainian.
The Norwegian Bokmål and Danish standard have asymmetric intelligibility, for speakers of Norwegian Danish understand better than otherwise. [ 1 ]
List of mutually intelligible languages [ edit | edit source code ]
Written and spoken form [ edit | edit source code ]
- Afrikaans: Dutch (partially) [ 1 ]
- German: Luxembourgish (partially) [ 2 ]
- asturo-leonese: spanish , galician and portuguese (high) [ 3 ]
- Azerbaijani: Turkish , Gagauz , Urum and Crimean Tartar [ 4 ] (both partially and asymmetrical) [ 5 ]
- Belarusian: Russian and Ukrainian (high) [ 6 ]
- Bulgarian: Macedonian (high), [ 7 ] Serbo-Croatian [ citation needed ] (partially)
- Castilian: Asturian-Leonese , Galician , [ 8 ] (high), Portuguese (in high written form, asymmetric spoken form), Catalan and Italian (partially) [ 9 ] [ 10 ] [ 11 ]
- Catalan: Occitan ( Alta ), Castilian and Portuguese (partially) [ 12 ]
- Corsican: Italian , Sicilian and Neapolitan (high), Sardinian (partially) [ 13 ]
- Czech: Slovak (high) Polish and Sorbian (partially) [ 14 ]
- Danish: Norwegian and Swedish [ 15 ] (both partially and asymmetric [ 1 ] )
- dari: Persian [ 16 ]
- Slovak: Czech (high) Polish and Sorabian (partially) [ 14 ]
- Slovenian: Serbo-Croatian (partly) [ 17 ]
- Estonian: Finnish (partially) [ 18 ]
- Finnish : Estonian (partially),[ 18 ] Karelian (partially) [ 19 ]
- French: With languages of Oïl and Franco-Provencal (High) Occitan (partially) [ 20 ]
- Galician: Portuguese , Castilian and Asturian-Leonese (high) Catalan (partially) [ 3 ] [ 21 ]
- Irish: Scottish Gaelic (partially) [ 22 ]
- English: Scottish (high)
- Italian: Neapolitan , Corsican and Sicilian (high), Castilian , Sardinian and Portuguese (partially) [ 23 ]
- Kinyarwanda: kirundi [ 24 ]
- kirundi: Kinyarwanda [ 24 ]
- Limburgish: Dutch and Afrikaans (partially) [ 25 ]
- Macedonian: Bulgarian (high), [ 7 ] Serbo-Croatian (partially) [ 26 ]
- Dutch: Afrikaans (partially), [ 1 ] Limburgish and Frisian [ 1 ] (partially) [ 2 ]
- Norwegian: Danish [ 1 ] and Swedish [ 15 ] (partially and asymmetrical)
- Persian: dari [ 16 ]
- Portuguese: Galician [ 21 ] and Asturo-Leonese (high), Castilian (in high written form, asymmetric spoken form), Catalan and Italian (partially) [ 9 ] [ 10 ] [ 11 ]
- Polish: Czech , Slovak and Sorbian (partially) [ 14 ]
- Russian: Belarusian and Ukrainian (both partially and asymmetrical) [ 6 ]
- Scottish: English (high) [ 27 ]
- Swedish: Danish [ 1 ] and Norwegian [ 15 ] (partially and asymmetrical)
- Tokelau: Tuvaluan and Samoan [ 28 ] (partially)
- Turkish: Azerbaijani , Gagauz , Urum and Crimean Tartar [ 4 ] (both partially and asymmetrical) [ 5 ]
- Tuvaluan: Tokelauan and Samoan [ 28 ] (partially)
- Ukrainian: Belarusian and Russian (partially) [ 6 ]
- zulu: xhosa and swazi (partially) [ 29 ]
Spoken form only [ edit | edit source code ]
- German: Yiddish [ 30 ] (for German is written in the Latin alphabet and Yiddish in the Hebrew alphabet )
- Spanish: Jewish-Spanish [ 31 ] (since Spanish is written in the Latin alphabet and the Spanish-Jew in the Hebrew alphabet , but it is also written in the Latin alphabet)
- dari: Tajik [ 16 ] (since Tajik is written in the Cyrillic alphabet while Dari in the Perso-Arabic alphabet ).
- Yiddish: German [ 30 ]
- Jewish-Spanish: Castilian
- Lao: Thai [ 32 ] (since lao is written in the Lao alphabet and Thai in the Thai alphabet )
- Polish: Ukrainian and Belarusian [ 33 ] (partially, as Polish is written in the Latin and Ukrainian alphabet and Belarusian in the Cyrillic alphabet )
- Persian: Tajik [ 16 ] (since Persian is written in the Perso-Arabic alphabet and Tajik in the Cyrillic alphabet )
- Tajik: Persian and Dari [ 16 ] (since Tajik is written in the Cyrillic alphabet and Persian in the Perso-Arabic alphabet ).
- Thai: lao [ 32 ]
- Hindi: Urdu (because Hindi is written in the Devanagari alphabet and Urdu in the Arabic alphabet )
- Uighur: Uzbek [ 34 ] (since Uighur is written in the Uighur-Arabic alphabet and Uzbek in the Latin alphabet )
- Uzbek: Uighur [ 34 ]
- Urdu: Hindi
Written form only [ edit | edit source code ]
- Icelandic: Faroese [ 35 ]
- German: Dutch [ 36 ]
- French: with some Romance languages. [ 20 ]
- Chinese dialects [37 ]
- Arabic dialects [38 ]
Dialects or records of a language sometimes considered separate languages [ edit | edit source code ]
- Hindustani: Hindi , Urdu [ 39 ] (the standard form are from separate records of the same language structure (called Hindu-Urdu or Hundustani), with Hindu written in Devanagar and Urdu in the Perso-Arabic alphabet )
- Malay: Indonesian , [ 40 ] Standard Malay both varieties are based on the same language and are therefore mutually intelligible despite numerous lexical differences.
- Serbo-Croat: Bosnian , Croatian , Montenegrin and Serbian are considered different languages for political reasons, [ 41 ] and are mutually intelligible in standard form, [ 42 ] either in spoken or written form (if the Latin alphabet is used). [ 43 ]
- Catalan: Valencian standardized forms are structurally the same language and, therefore, mutually intelligible. They are considered separate languages for political reasons. [ 44 ]
- Romanian: Moldovan standardized forms are structurally the same language and, therefore, mutually intelligible. They are considered separate languages for political reasons. Although if there is a noticeable difference, the accent is the most relevant. [ 45 ]
- Tagalog: Filipino [ 46 ]
Dialect continuum [ edit | edit source code ]
Due to the difficulties of imposing limits in a dialect continuum , several Romance languages are taken as an example, in the linguasphere register of the linguistic communities of the world. David Dalby lists 9 language groups based on mutual intelligibility. [ 47 ]
- Ibero-Romance languages: Portuguese , Galician , Mirandese , Leonese , Asturian , Castilian or Spanish and Aragonese .
- Occitan-Romance languages: Catalan and Occitan .
- Gallo-Romanesquelanguages : Oïl languages : French or Parisian , Norman , Rooster , Picardo , Walloon , Lorenese , Champagne , Burgundian , Berrichão , Franc-Comtois , Mayenês and Pointevin-Santogês . And the Franco-Provencal .
- Reto-Romance languages: Romansh , Friulian and Ladino .
- Gallo-Italic languages: Piedmontese , Ligure , Lombard , Emilian-Romanhol and Veneto .
- Italian-Dalmatian languages: Tuscan or Italian , Corsican , Neapolitan , Sicilian , Romanesque and Dalmatian (extinct).
- Eastern Romance languages: Romanian or Daco-Romanian , Armenian , Megleno-Romanian and Istro-Romanian