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18 votes
Accepted

Do the Belarusians understand the Ukrainian language better than Russians do?

When it goes for speaking/understanding Slavic languages, most Russians know only Russian and have practically never been exposed to other Slavic languages, especially spoken ones, while most ...
Yellow Sky's user avatar
  • 18.5k
17 votes
Accepted

How to explain differences in mutual intelligibility?

The previous answers gave a lot of possible factors, including external ones. I'll give a single example where it clearly has a lot to do with quirks of the harder-understandable language: Danish. The ...
leftaroundabout's user avatar
16 votes

Native English speakers: worse understanding of other accents?

The first thing to consider is that this is a comedy show, and Lily Tomlin is a comedian. The second is that US speakers of English don't have a lot of exposure to UK accents, especially those most-...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.2k
13 votes

Native English speakers: worse understanding of other accents?

Lily Thomlin is a comedian. She's playing the supposed difficulty of understanding the accents as a joke. If you pay attention, she laughs quite appropriately to the jokes the others make. When ...
JRE's user avatar
  • 231
12 votes

Are Tamil and Malayalam mutually intelligible?

I had both Malayalam and Tamil speaking colleagues and we often discussed languages. As a non speaker of either, they sounded exactly the same but with different accents, so I often asked a lot of ...
vin's user avatar
  • 611
12 votes
Accepted

Is there a clear linguistic reason for Swiss German not being considered its own Germanic language?

Is the premise of the question actually true? Alemannic German actually is considered its own language for many purposes. For example, it has its own ISO code, Wikipedia etc. As far as I know, ...
Adam Bittlingmayer's user avatar
12 votes

How to explain differences in mutual intelligibility?

There are a lot of things factoring in here, the following list is by no means exhaustive exposure to the other language: this is often asymmetric between the languages A and B, and more exposure ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
10 votes

How to explain differences in mutual intelligibility?

Linguists would start with comparing social status of the languages. For example, there is a massive comprehensive asymmetry between Cantonese and Mandarin: more Cantonese speakers understand Mandarin ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.2k
9 votes

Could a Vedic Sanskrit speaker understand (reconstructed) PIE?

It is extremely unlikely that reconstructed PIE would be intelligible to a speaker of Sanskrit, but we can't know for sure since there aren't any native speakers of either language to do the test with....
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.2k
8 votes

Sociolinguistics of pre-handover Hong Kong cinema and dialogue in non-Cantonese Chinese “dialects”

Subtitles are an integral part of the film- and TV-viewing experience in the late 20th century in Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China, multi-topolectal or not. They essentially became ubiquitous in ...
Michaelyus's user avatar
  • 7,516
6 votes

How intelligible are German and Dutch to each other?

What is the metric here? 42% of words? "Somewhat intelligible"? Some formula given parameters like years*7 + km*0.01 + difficulty*3? Dutch and German are different languages mit an armey un flot ...
Adam Bittlingmayer's user avatar
5 votes

Is there a list of mutually intelligible languages?

This work (H. Wettig et al., Information-theoretic modeling of etymological sound change) presents a measure of language distance based on the amount of sound changes between cognates in the languages ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
5 votes
Accepted

Measuring oral comprehensibility between different language

The project INCOMSLAV looked at the mutual intercomprehensibility of Slavic languages using many different methods including the intercomprehensibility of spoken language. You may be interested in ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
5 votes

Native English speakers: worse understanding of other accents?

Note, the given example is from a chat show that occasionally borders upon being comedic in nature. Lily Tomlin and Kevin Bridges are comedians - Chris Hemsworth and Graham Norton are Australian and ...
Andrew Corrigan's user avatar
5 votes

What measures are there of similarity between languages? And where can I find data on such measurements?

There are many approaches to similarity of languages, usually expressed as a small linguistic distance. There are several approaches to linguistic distance, including phonemic distance measured, e.g., ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
4 votes

Do the Belarusians understand the Ukrainian language better than Russians do?

I am a native Russian speaker who grew up in Belarus, but have lived in the US for 40+ years. I studied Belarusian as second language in school for a few years before my parents and I left the Soviet ...
Roman's user avatar
  • 41
4 votes

Native English speakers: worse understanding of other accents?

There are numerous fields of research on English dialects. A particular issue is that dialects change over time, so resources such as this one are very useful. Going further back in time, we are ...
Graham's user avatar
  • 249
4 votes

Is there a clear linguistic reason for Swiss German not being considered its own Germanic language?

Unlike Luxembourg (and unlike the Dutch some centuries earlier) the speakers of Swiss German did not take the effort to create a Hochsprache for their languages/dialects, so Standard High German ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
3 votes

How Polish influenced Ukrainian

The reason why two languages differ is always complex, there's no one single factor, it's the combination of the factors. You can look at it as you've formulated, or you can look at it like Russian ...
Yellow Sky's user avatar
  • 18.5k
3 votes
Accepted

How similar are Norwegian and Swedish compared to Dutch and Flemish / German?

Tang & van Heuven 2009 "Mutual intelligibility of Chinese dialects experimentally tested" address this kind of question experimentally for Chinese dialects. They do not come up with percentages ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.2k
3 votes

Do speakers with heavy accents find it easier to understand their own accent than a more standard accent?

I also speak Standard North American English, and encounter problems understanding and being understood. For instance, a "root" is a [rʊt] for me, and if I ask a Kenyan what their word for [rʊt] is, ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.2k
3 votes

Are any of the 'interslavic' constructed languages actually intelligible with any natural slavic languages?

Slavic languages are famous for their degree of mutual intelligibility, and there are ongoing scientific studies on this question. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any studies throwing constructed ...
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
2 votes

Can modern Icelanders really read the Prose Edda?

I’m not an Icelander but I do speak Icelandic proficiently and I’ve read the Grœnlendingasaga in Old Icelandic. It’s true to an extent, but it’s an exaggerated claim. As you mentioned, modern editions ...
Khove's user avatar
  • 774
2 votes

How intelligible are German and Dutch to each other?

I would expect that to vary somewhat from speaker to speaker. Key drivers probably include how many other languages that person speaks and/or how easily they pick up languages, and what regional ...
user149408's user avatar
2 votes

Is there a clear linguistic reason for Swiss German not being considered its own Germanic language?

My wife is Swiss, and I’ve learned to speak swiss german over the course of two decades. I believe the sole reason it is not considered its own language is because it has never been standardized. ...
Ikari's user avatar
  • 21
2 votes

Native English speakers: worse understanding of other accents?

"Wa gwaan, people?" :) [clue: Jamaican patois] (I know, this is not just an accent, it is patois but it helps to make my point about exposure and experience.) I heard this in a TV series ...
Lambie's user avatar
  • 764
1 vote

Native English speakers: worse understanding of other accents?

What is your native language? As a native english speaker born and raised in the midwest, I have a hard time understanding him. I wonder if some of the sounds may be more similar to the normal ...
Jason Goemaat's user avatar
1 vote

Native English speakers: worse understanding of other accents?

A lot depends on who you've mostly spoken English with, and how close their accent is to your own. To my ears, at least, English with a Russian accent sounds more similar to a Scottish accent than to ...
Karl Bielefeldt's user avatar
1 vote

Native English speakers: worse understanding of other accents?

I want to address things from the opposite front than the other answers. You seem to believe that non-native speakers have a better facility for understanding accents than native English speakers. ...
Eric Nolan's user avatar

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