A question about dialects and foreign languages

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Karl_O, Dec 29, 2002.

  1. Karl_O

    Karl_O Stunt Coordinator

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    While English dialects in the most part are intelligible, why is it that dialects in many major languages are less intelligible from each other? For example, Chinese.
    No technical replies please.[​IMG]
     
  2. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  3. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    British and US English are not really far apart at all, it's just the accents and regional slang

    With Chinese, which is actually Mandarin (mainland) and Cantonese (Hong Kong and other coastal areas) the languages are about as alike as English and Spanish. 2 seperate languages with common ancestry
     
  4. HienN

    HienN Stunt Coordinator

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    My guess is that we are dealing with two different situations. In one case, the dialects were originally languages of separate countries that merged into one (Many Asian countries or the former Soviet Union for example). In the other case, the "dialects" are languages of one country that at one point split into several (like the US and Britain), although I am not sure if they are technically "dialects".
     
  5. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    as Jeff said, Chinese dialects are incomprehensible to someone who speaks another, e.g. I speak Mandarin, but don't understand Cantonese (maybe some "choice" words, but that's all...)

    but the written text is substantially the same.

    as a different example, would one consider German as spoken in Germany, Austria and Switzerland as merely regional accents, or outright dialects? or for that matter, German spoken in Bavaria, which I understand can be a bit different? is Yiddish a German dialect?

    perhaps the Indian sub-continent would be a better region to consider for such an analysis? but I know nothing about Indian languages/dialects, could someone enlighten us?
     
  6. Rex Bachmann

    Rex Bachmann Screenwriter

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    Karl_O wrote:
    I don't know a whole lot about the modern dialects of India, but my understanding is that Urdu and Hindi, the main official language(s), are essentially the same language (i.e., they're very close dialects, if dialects at all), one spoken by Muslims and written in Arabic script, the "second" spoken by Hindus (or Christianized Indians) and written in the native Devanagari script. As I have said in the link above, these matters are usually politically determined, often along "ethnic" lines. Members of the various groups in such cases usually do not wish to be identified with each by outsiders due to historic ethnic hostilities. This is also the case, for example, in Yugoslavia/Bosnia, where Croatian and Serbian are the same language, one spoken by Catholics who use the Roman alphabet, the other by Orthodox Christians who use Cyrillic. (The same goes for the Muslims.) They don't want to be identified with each other, even though they look essentially the same phenotypically and speak the same language. Before the post-Communist-era break-up, the language there was called "Serbo-Croatian".
     
  7. Denward

    Denward Supporting Actor

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    Chinese has no alphabet. If two ancient Chinese 1000 miles apart look at the same character, there's nothing to tell them how to pronounce it, except their neighbors. Thus, you develop distinct spoken languages even though the written language is identical.
     
  8. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    I can understand some Mandarin Chinese, but Cantonese just messes me up completely. It's almost like they are different languages.
     
  9. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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  10. Karl_O

    Karl_O Stunt Coordinator

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    I thank those people who replied.

    I would like to present a new question: how is it that English dialects, regardless of their geographical locations (United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) are more mutually intelligible than dialects from other languages (German, Italy, Spanish, Arabic, Japanese, etc.)?
     
  11. BrianB

    BrianB Producer

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    How long have there been English speaking people in the areas you listed, Karl, and how did the people in those regions start speaking English? The answers to those questions go a long way to answering your question.
     
  12. Rex Bachmann

    Rex Bachmann Screenwriter

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    Patrick Sun wrote:
     
  13. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    One thing you have to remember

    There has been English in the US/Canada for what, 400 years? Australia/NZ for 300?

    For a language to diverge like you're talking about takes a lot longer than that, and given the global community of today, isn't really likely to happen anymore
     

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