View previous topic | View next topic

Inter-linguistic comprehension

Page 1 of 5
Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5  Next

Gilgamesh
743969.  Fri Sep 17, 2010 2:01 am Reply with quote

Or, when people who speak two 'different' languages can understand one another.

The traditional English tourist method of SPEAKING SLOWER LOUDER AND CLEARLY does actually work in some cases. But not for English.

An example is Swedish and Norwegian. In Sweden there's a chat show host who is Norwegian, speaks Norwegian to his guests, and all is fine. There's subtitles for the viewers at home. In fact as long as the English Tourist Method is used, speakers of Danish, Norwegian and Swedish (plus Finland Swedish) all have a good chance of understanding one another.

I once had a decent conversation with an African immigrant who only spoke French and Danish. I think what saved me was that he was speaking immigrant-Danish and pronouncing the words much like they are written. If he'd been pronouncing it 'properly', with a very strong glottal stop in the middle of words, which then tail off at the end much like French, then I'd have had a much more difficult time.

Any other examples? Can Spanish and Portuguese speakers understand each other? Or Czech and Polish?

 
mckeonj
743981.  Fri Sep 17, 2010 3:40 am Reply with quote

Portugese and Spanish can understand one another, but would rather not, preferring to utter terrible oaths.

 
tetsabb
744001.  Fri Sep 17, 2010 4:40 am Reply with quote

How do the Welsh, Irish, Scots, Bretons, Galicians, Cornish and Manx (have I missed anyone?) get on in this regard?

 
Gilgamesh
744022.  Fri Sep 17, 2010 5:20 am Reply with quote

tetsabb wrote:
How do the Welsh, Irish, Scots, Bretons, Galicians, Cornish and Manx (have I missed anyone?) get on in this regard?
I vaguely know that there are several branches of 'celtic', and that they're not necessarily inter-comprehensible. But I also recall that Scots Gaelic was brought over fro Ireland by early medieval invaders from what was then called Scotland...

'Celtic' culture was never very uniform in any case, being iirc a 19th century romantic invention.

 
Sadurian Mike
744067.  Fri Sep 17, 2010 6:55 am Reply with quote

<chokes>

Celtic culture was certainly not an invention. The culture is all that we have to follow the Celtic "people", which may well have just been a cultural sweep rather than one of individuals.

Historians are divided as to whether the Celtic people were of a unified genetic stock or simply existing tribes who adopted the Celtic culture and lifestyle. Nowadays we tend to use the term "Celtic people" to describe people who adopted the Celtic culture, and the early Britons fit that category.

 
Posital
744069.  Fri Sep 17, 2010 6:57 am Reply with quote

mckeonj wrote:
Portugese and Spanish can understand one another, but would rather not, preferring to utter terrible oaths.
I thought that was more a spanish/italian issue/conflict.

I love portuguese but the softness of it means it takes a while to get me ear in.

 
Gilgamesh
744129.  Fri Sep 17, 2010 10:07 am Reply with quote

Sadurian Mike wrote:
Celtic culture was certainly not an invention. The culture is all that we have to follow the Celtic "people", which may well have just been a cultural sweep rather than one of individuals.


Of course the culture(s) themselves weren't an invention! But they didn't call themselves 'celts' did they?

The idea that were was some kind of celtic nation or family of nations is, imo, an invention of modern celtic nationalism and by those who want there to be a coherant equivalent ot the Roman empire. In reality the culture was more flui and diffuse.

People in 'Celtic' societies would have thought of themselves as Gallic, or Scottish, or whatever, and probably no more saw themselves as part of a unified culture than, say, all the different people who are influenced by American films and culture nowadays see themselves as part of a unified family.

edit: do you have any info on the inter-linguistic comprehensibility of modern celtic languages, mike? Many of the current ones were from relatively recent migrations from a common linguisitc ancester, iirc (i.e. Britons fleeing Saxons and ending up in modern France)

 
96aelw
744131.  Fri Sep 17, 2010 10:09 am Reply with quote

Sadurian Mike wrote:
<chokes>

Celtic culture was certainly not an invention. The culture is all that we have to follow the Celtic "people", which may well have just been a cultural sweep rather than one of individuals.

Historians are divided as to whether the Celtic people were of a unified genetic stock or simply existing tribes who adopted the Celtic culture and lifestyle. Nowadays we tend to use the term "Celtic people" to describe people who adopted the Celtic culture, and the early Britons fit that category.


I know I've posted at vast and tedious length on Celticity in the past, so I shall attempt to be both brief and uncontroversial (there's a first time for everything).

Anyway, without wishing to revisit our old discussions about the validity or usefulness of using the word 'Celtic' with reference to Britain and Britons, I would wish to offer a few slight amendments.

First, if one is going to allege that Celtic culture was an invention, I would tend to call it an 18th century one.

Secondly, historians and archaeologists aren't really, to any significant extent, divided as to whether the Celtic peoples were of a unified genetic stock or simply existing tribes who adopted elements of 'Celtic' culture. You're quite right that the expansion of 'Celtic' culture may have been a cultural sweep rather than a movement of large numbers of individuals, and the alternative you mention, what we might call the "mass migration" hypothesis, hasn't been the prevailing academic take on the issue for 50 years or so. These days, I think you'd be hard pushed to find more than a handful of scholars seriously arguing for it.

Whether one ought to use the term "Celtic people" to describe people who adopted 'Celtic' culture, what, precisely, one considers to constitute 'Celtic' culture, and whether or not, or to what extent, the early Britons fit that category are all, however, matters on which opinion is still very strongly divided (sometimes to the point of apparently serious scholars accusing each other of ethnic cleansing and Nazi methodology)!

 
Gilgamesh
744133.  Fri Sep 17, 2010 10:23 am Reply with quote

I take your point, it was 18th century, sorry!

96aelw wrote:
Whether one ought to use the term "Celtic people" to describe people who adopted 'Celtic' culture, what, precisely, one considers to constitute 'Celtic' culture, and whether or not, or to what extent, the early Britons fit that category are all, however, matters on which opinion is still very strongly divided (sometimes to the point of apparently serious scholars accusing each other of ethnic cleansing and Nazi methodology)!
I like it when historians get really passionate. Like in the current debate about whether it is possible to say that there was an iron age nation of Israel or not.

I suppose in both cases, ongoing nationalist politics makes the subject rather charged.

 
suze
744153.  Fri Sep 17, 2010 12:20 pm Reply with quote

Gilgamesh wrote:
Any other examples? Can Spanish and Portuguese speakers understand each other? Or Czech and Polish?


The formal term for what is under discussion here is mutual intelligibility, and Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish are classic examples of languages which are mutually intelligible.

So are Bosniak/n, Croatian, and Serbian (and indeed by now we are supposed to add Montenegrin) - or at least, they are if we accept that they are indeed distinct languages. Until twenty years ago, it was usual to consider them as one under the name Serbo-Croat.

Other examples include Azerbaijani and Turkish, Bulgarian and Macedonian, Dutch and Afrikaans, Hindi and Urdu (and more or less Punjabi as well), and Indonesian and Malay.

Spanish and Portuguese exhibit what is technically called asymmetric intelligibility. A Portuguese can understand Spanish with very little difficulty, but the converse is not the case. Other pairs where the first named understand the second named with little difficulty, but not vice versa, include Romanian and Italian, [Belarusian and Ukrainian*] and Russian, Catalan and [French and Spanish], and to a large extent Dutch and German. (Some have tried to add Dutch and English, but I disagree. Yes, most Dutch people understand English - but that is because they have studied English, not because knowing Dutch does it for them.)

Now, Czech, Polish, and Slovak. These three languages form a dialect continuum - as one travels from (for instance) Prague to Warsaw, one founds that the spoken language gradually turns from Czech into Polish. It's difficult to draw a line and say "Czech spoken this side; Polish spoken that side" - and those who have tried generally reckon that that line probably doesn't come at the border.

A person from Prague will not understand a person from Warsaw, but a person from Ostrava will probably understand both of the other two. As a speaker of Polish† , I could probably have a conversation with an Ostravian, but not with someone from Prague.

Other examples of dialect continua include Italian (although there is one standard written form, dialects throughout Italy are actually fairly divergent), Arabic (the standard written language has developed from the language of the Qur'an, and few use it as their usual spoken language), and the Turkic languages.


* This one can cause linguists to come to high words. Some claim that "proper Ukrainian" is not co-intelligible with Russian, but that Ukrainians spend half their time actually speaking Russian without realizing they are doing it.

† It's a learned language for me and so I speak a fairly standard form of Polish. But since most of my time in Poland has been in Gdańsk, I dare say that some features of Kashubian have crept into my speech.

 
Gilgamesh
744174.  Fri Sep 17, 2010 1:21 pm Reply with quote

That's very Quite Interesting suze.

I'd also point out then that Danish adn Swedish are asymetrically intelligible - a Dane can understand a Swede, but it's far far harder for a Swede to understand a Dane.

Regarding dialect continuum, it puts me in mind of the old saying that "a language is a dialect with an army and a navy".

 
Jenny
744215.  Fri Sep 17, 2010 2:37 pm Reply with quote

Frances of these forums, who is Scottish, told us at some point that she was in Belgium when she heard somebody say, of a rainy day, 'Eh it's a mucky morn' and was speaking Flemish at the time.

I recall a machine that used to be in the Castle Museum in York in the 1950s, that played a recording of broad Dales dialect, which Scandinavian visitors could understand but which I couldn't.

 
suze
744290.  Fri Sep 17, 2010 3:59 pm Reply with quote

That's interesting. It's accepted that Old English and Old Norse were rather more similar than are modern English and Icelandic, and it's unsurprising that features from Norse are found more in the dialects of the right hand side of England than elsewhere.

Some claim OE and ON as having been mutually intelligible, although that probably overstates the similarity. (Old Frisian and Old English are more likely to have been, and Eddie Izzard made a TV show in which he explored this point, but certainly all three languages were rather more similar than are their modern descendants.)

 
Spud McLaren
744339.  Fri Sep 17, 2010 6:09 pm Reply with quote

Anyone out there know, given that it's roughly 100 years since the migration, how mutually intelligible are Finnish and Hungarian?

 
Hans Mof
744343.  Fri Sep 17, 2010 6:27 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
given that it's roughly 100 years since the migration


?


Last edited by Hans Mof on Fri Sep 17, 2010 6:43 pm; edited 2 times in total

 

Page 1 of 5
Goto page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5  Next

All times are GMT - 5 Hours


Display posts from previous:   

Search Search Forums

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group