Mutually intelligible languages

From Academic Kids

A pair of languages is said to be mutually intelligible if speakers of one language can readily understand the other language. A group of languages is said to be mutually intelligible if all the language-pairs in the group are mutually intelligible. According to some definitions, if two speakers are sufficiently mutually intelligible, they are actually speaking the same language. Sometimes different speakers of what is considered the same language are not mutually intelligible. For more on this, see Dialect and Dialect continuum.

It usually requires considerable time and effort to learn or understand a new language. However, many languages are similar in their grammar and vocabulary to other related languages. Speakers of these languages find it relatively easy to read or to understand the related language or languages. However, the intelligibility among languages can vary from individuals, according to their knowledge of their own tongue, their interests in other cultures, their broadmindedness and other factors. On a broader level, this can lead to asymmetries in mutual intelligibility between languages; for example, Spanish speakers often claim to have more trouble understanding Portuguese speakers than vice versa.

Contents

List of mutually intelligible languages

Written and spoken forms

Spoken forms only

Written forms only

  • Written Mandarin and written Cantonese (but not if the vernacular is written).
  • Written Chinese can be read to a limited degree by many Japanese and vice-versa.
  • Icelanders can read Old Norse with little difficulty.
  • Modern Greeks can read Classical Greek with little difficulty.

Related languages that are not mutually intelligible

List of mutually intelligible languages in ancient times

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