Author Topic: Language Learners  (Read 22728 times)

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greg

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Language Learners
« on: October 14, 2010, 02:22:44 PM »
A thread about language discussion in general.



Quote
List Of Mutually Intelligible Languages

Written And Spoken Forms

Afrikaans: Dutch
Azerbaijani: Turkish
Belarusian: Russian and Ukrainian
Bosnian: Croatian, Montenegrin, and Serbian when written in Latin script
Bulgarian: Macedonian
Croatian: Bosnian, Montenegrin, and Serbian when written in Latin script
Danish: Norwegian and Swedish
Dutch: Afrikaans
Galician: Portuguese, Spanish
Kinyarwanda: Kirundi
Kirundi: Kinyarwanda
Russian: Belarusian and Ukrainian
Serbian: Bosnian, Croatian, and Montenegrin when written in Latin script, Portuguese
Swedish: Danish and Norwegian
Turkish: Azerbaijani
Tuvaluan: Tokelauan since Tajik is currently written in Cyrillic alphabet and Persian and Dari in Perso-Arabic script.
German: Yiddish since German is written in Latin script and Yiddish in Hebrew script
Hindi: Urdu since Hindi is written in Devanagari and Urdu in Perso-Arabic script
Lao: Thai since Lao is written in Lao script and Thai in Thai script
Persian: Tajik
Yiddish: German

Written Forms Only

Faroese: Icelandic

List Of Mutually Intelligible Languages In Ancient Times

Old English and Old Saxon
So... how close are some of these languages, really? I'm assuming more than the relationship between Spanish and Portuguese, so I guess that would make them pretty close...

Offline Benji

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2010, 02:35:56 PM »
A thread about language discussion in general.


So... how close are some of these languages, really? I'm assuming more than the relationship between Spanish and Portuguese, so I guess that would make them pretty close...

I saw a documentary in which the presenter (Eddie Izzard) was taught some phrases in Old English (unrecognisable to modern English speakers) re: purchasing a cow. He then went to.... oh here's the video haha

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeC1yAaWG34

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/OeC1yAaWG34" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/OeC1yAaWG34</a>

greg

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2010, 04:07:39 PM »
I saw a documentary in which the presenter (Eddie Izzard) was taught some phrases in Old English (unrecognisable to modern English speakers) re: purchasing a cow. He then went to.... oh here's the video haha
Wow, that was definitely interesting and funny, thanks!  :D

Today I found someone on youtube reading a bunch of texts in different languages, such as Frisian, Old English, Middle English, Gothic, Danish, Swedish, etc.

Here's Old English:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/RLJGTYkEKLI" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/RLJGTYkEKLI</a>
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLJGTYkEKLI

(I found the top comment interesting):
Quote
3 months ago 19
im icelandic and my mind is boggled by how much of this i understand

Definitely a completely different language, but if you watch the video for Middle English, it's easy to understand many of the words.

Offline Daidalos

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2010, 08:14:44 PM »
As a Swedish speaker, I can read Norwegian and Danish without much difficulty. Spoken Norwegian is somewhat comprehensible; spoken Danish... not very much.
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Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2010, 10:25:09 PM »
Your list doesn't include Czech and Slovak, which are definitely mutually comprehensible, at least as much as Norwegian and Danish.

As for Russian/Ukrainian, speakers of the first often have a hard time with the second, due to the huge number of Polish-origin words in Ukrainian. Ukrainians are almost all bilingual in both Ukr. and Rus., so they have no problems with Russian (in fact many speak it better than Ukrainian).

This illustrates an important linguistic distinction: that between Ausbau, which refers to languages that arise as a result of separate standardization from a common origin (like Czech v. Slovak), and Abstand, which relates to languages that differ primarily because their origins are different (like Swedish v. Finnish).

By the way, why is Portuguese listed as mutually intelligible with Serbian? Looks like somebody screwed up.
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Offline Benji

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2010, 01:12:26 AM »
By the way, why is Portuguese listed as mutually intelligible with Serbian? Looks like somebody screwed up.

Convergent evolution [of language]? ;)

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2010, 03:20:27 AM »
My mother is Turkish and can understand most of, or at least 50% of, not just Azerbaijani but Uzbek, Turkmen, and other Turkic languages of central Asia.

abidoful

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2010, 03:26:34 AM »
Estonian sounds alot like Finnish

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2010, 03:33:38 AM »
Estonian sounds alot like Finnish

Despite their common origins, the major Finno-Ugric languages have diverged to the point where there is only one complete sentence that looks similar in all of them:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_living_fish_swims_in_water
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abidoful

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2010, 03:45:03 AM »
Despite their common origins, the major Finno-Ugric languages have diverged to the point where there is only one complete sentence that looks similar in all of them:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_living_fish_swims_in_water
I'm a Finn and I studied for a while in Hungary, and honestly I couldn't find any similarity in the languages whereas Estonian really does sound alot like Finnish--in a weird and funny way.
























Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2010, 04:01:21 AM »
I'm a Finn and I studied for a while in Hungary, and honestly I couldn't find any similarity in the languages whereas Estonian really does sound alot like Finnish--in a weird and funny way.

That's  because the Ugrian languages split off from Finnic long ago (like 2000 years ago maybe), so there are few provable correspondences. It's like looking for common vocab between English and Hindi - you'll find some items but not very much.

The closest relatives to the Hungarians, interestingly enough, are two small peoples living in Western Siberia, the Khanty and the Mansi. They number a few thousand each, and follow a traditional way of life of hunting and fishing, reindeer herding, and shamanism - in other words, about as different from their relatives in Budapest as one can imagine.

Have you heard any of the Volga Finnic languages (Mari, Udmurt, Komi etc.)? I guess they would be a lot more comprehensible to you than Hungarian (though less than Estonian).
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abidoful

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2010, 04:07:23 AM »
Have you heard any of the Volga Finnic languages (Mari, Udmurt, Komi etc.)? I guess they would be a lot more comprehensible to you than Hungarian (though less than Estonian).
Nope, I guess would be fun though!

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2010, 04:13:24 AM »
Nope, I guess would be fun though!

You can find some of them represented on YouTube - mostly in the form of folk music and dancing. This is nice, because I find Finno-Ugric folk music quite captivating.  :)
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abidoful

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2010, 05:32:52 AM »
You can find some of them represented on YouTube - mostly in the form of folk music and dancing. This is nice, because I find Finno-Ugric folk music quite captivating.  :)
Cool, I'll check 'em out :)

greg

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2010, 06:31:30 AM »
As a Swedish speaker, I can read Norwegian and Danish without much difficulty. Spoken Norwegian is somewhat comprehensible; spoken Danish... not very much.
I understand it's basically like a dialect continuum- which would make sense, since Sweden and Denmark are the furthest apart. Supposedly, if you start from Denmark, it goes like this: Danish->Norwegian Bokmål->Nynorsk->Swedish, or something like that, I guess...



Your list doesn't include Czech and Slovak, which are definitely mutually comprehensible, at least as much as Norwegian and Danish.
Another one! Cool.



By the way, why is Portuguese listed as mutually intelligible with Serbian? Looks like somebody screwed up.
I didn't even notice that... yeah, just might be a mistake.  :D

Offline Superhorn

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #15 on: October 15, 2010, 07:36:41 AM »
  In Turkey,Azerbaijani is considered to be a sort of hick,substandard Turkish,and some Turks say that it sounds downright comical to them.
  The Azerbaijanis call standard Turkish "Istanbul Turkish",but the Turkish spoken in the eastern part of the country is quite close to Azerbaijani.
  In Turkey,Turkish has been written inthe Latin alphabet since the time of Ataturk, Azerbaijani in the former Soviet Union was written in Cyrillic,and still with the Arabic script in Iran,where most of the Azerbaijanis live.
  There was a curious situation where if a Turk from Turkey, one from the Soviet Union and one from Iran all met,they could easily converse,yet could not read Turkish as written in the different alphabets !
  Hungarian is basically Finno-Ugrian, but is strongly influenced by Turkic languages, because the people who brought the Hungarian language from Asia to Europe had mixed with various Turkic peoples.
  When Bartok went to Turkey to study Turkish folk music,he also studied Turkish,and was struck by all the Hungarian words he could recognize !

Offline Maciek

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #16 on: October 15, 2010, 01:14:10 PM »
This illustrates an important linguistic distinction: that between Ausbau, which refers to languages that arise as a result of separate standardization from a common origin (like Czech v. Slovak)

Frankly, I don't think the distinction between Ausbausprache and Abstandsprache is as fundamental as you make it seem. I think the terms are rarely used outside sociolinguistics?

Anyways, I was going to ask something. About the Czech - Slovak distinction. Can you elaborate a bit please? I have read a similar statement before (precisely in the context of Kloss' terminology), but I have no idea what the reasoning behind it is, and would really like to know. There seems to be an implication here that either Slovak is a dialect of Czech, or that both Slovak and Czech are dialects of some other language. AFAIK, both of these claims are false.

The dialects which were later to become Czech and Slovak began to differentiate as far back as the 9th century. For instance, the Proto-Slavic -ort-, -olt- groups, which retain the o sound in Czech, changed into rat-, lat- in Slovak dialects. But there are many more examples of early differentiation.* And these dialects continued to develop more or less independently (to the extent that that is possible in case of adjacent populations). In both cases there was a group of dialects (a group of dialects which could be called "Czech dialects" and a group of dialects which could be called "Slovak dialects"), and at some point one of these dialects became the dominant (literary) variant (this appears to have happened much earlier in the case of Czech)...

Unless, of course, I am misunderstanding something about the term Ausbau - which is also possible... ;D (Especially since I've never read Kloss.)


[* -  more of them can be found in the first paragraph here: http://sk.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dejiny_slovenčiny - I just chose the ort olt example because or/ol is such a wonderful group to study in the history of Slavic languages - I'm sure anyone who has ever had to will agree! ;D >:D 0:) - )

Offline petrarch

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #17 on: October 15, 2010, 06:25:07 PM »
The connection between Serbian and Portugese is bound to be a misprint.
Though travelling to Portugal once I was struck by the Portugese accent, which seemed closer to Russian than to Brazilian

Indeed, portuguese is a 'hard' language (i.e. not very fluid with hard consonant sounds) and the comparison with russian wrt what it sounds like is common.

Portuguese people usually understand spanish without learning it; spanish people have a hard time understanding portuguese.

The difference between portuguese from Portugal and portuguese from Brasil is exactly like american english vs british english.

Another language that sounds very much like portuguese and actually has some striking similarities in written form is catalan, much more so than (castilian) spanish.
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greg

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #18 on: October 15, 2010, 07:00:20 PM »
Indeed, portuguese is a 'hard' language (i.e. not very fluid with hard consonant sounds) and the comparison with russian wrt what it sounds like is common.

Portuguese people usually understand spanish without learning it; spanish people have a hard time understanding portuguese.

The difference between portuguese from Portugal and portuguese from Brasil is exactly like american english vs british english.

Another language that sounds very much like portuguese and actually has some striking similarities in written form is catalan, much more so than (castilian) spanish.
My friend from Columbia wants to learn Portuguese, and I'm thinking, "Why not?" I bet he could be fluent with just a year of study.

It's such a bizarre experience reading a language you've never even studied and understanding what it says. I'm not even fluent in Spanish, yet I can read a surprising amount of Portuguese and Galician, even though I've never studied the languages (sometimes entire paragraphs). I think the fact that there are so many cognates with English is part of the explanation for that, but still...

Offline Archaic Torso of Apollo

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Re: Language Learners
« Reply #19 on: October 15, 2010, 11:59:13 PM »

Anyways, I was going to ask something. About the Czech - Slovak distinction. Can you elaborate a bit please? I have read a similar statement before (precisely in the context of Kloss' terminology), but I have no idea what the reasoning behind it is, and would really like to know. There seems to be an implication here that either Slovak is a dialect of Czech, or that both Slovak and Czech are dialects of some other language. AFAIK, both of these claims are false.

Czech and Slovak were both standardized out of closely related West Slavic dialects, and could quite easily have been standardized into a single language if events had taken a different turn. Literary Czech was codified in the Middle Ages, but standard literary Slovak was not codified until the 19th century (interestingly, this happened at the same time that Czech was being revived and effectively "re-standardized" after falling out of use as a literary language).

As for claims that one is a dialect of another, or both are dialects of something else, that's hard to give a clear answer to. I will quote here the linguist David Short: "Before [standardization], there had been writing in 'Slovak' - various hybrids of Czech and local dialects written according to a variety of spelling conventions. It has recently become the practice to refer to these prestandardisation versions of the language as 'cultured western/eastern/central Slovak.' Throughout the gestation and parturition of Slovak as an independent literary language there was also a continuous current which favoured the use of Czech, either as such, or in a mutation of a common Czechoslovak." So one can see that, quite late in history, there were people viewing Czech and Slovak as at least potentially a single language.

Incidentally, although mutual comprehensibility is still very high, I have been informed that it has suffered a bit since the breakup of Czechoslovakia, due to the fact that Czechs and Slovaks are no longer exposed to each others' languages on a regular basis.

As for the Ausbau/Abstand distinction - that's just a useful and handy way to think about languages. You're right, normal people don't use such terminology  :D
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