Why are English dialects are more intelligible than most languages?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by David Baranyi, Sep 28, 2003.

  1. David Baranyi

    David Baranyi Stunt Coordinator

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    Regardless of the vocabulary, the spellings, the punctuation marks, or the accents, as an American English speaker, I mostly understand what people from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are saying without any difficulties. I can also understand what fellow Americans from the East Coast through the West Coast are saying as well. However, in most languages, it is a different story. Spanish is a good example where speakers from different parts of the world had problems understanding each other.

    With many regional and national dialects found in the English language, why do most English speakers have no serious problems understanding each other compared to other languages?
     
  2. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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    I don't know about that, I speak with a lot of europeans at work and some of the UK'ers can be difficult to understand. I guess it depends on their region? I really don't know.
     
  3. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    Hollywood. The entertainment industry has been pushing a certain middle-American accent for nearly a hundred years, and it has influenced the way generations of people have spoken.

    Still, it's not that universally easy. Distributors often put subtitles on Scottish films in the US, and while I could understand an Irish roommate I had pretty well, he'd been living in the US for years while his sister, just arrived, was incomprehensible to me.
     
  4. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    French is quite easily understandable acrross the board, including the dreadful canadian french.

    But yeah, I have been puzzled by my hispanic friends' inability to understand "spaniard" before.

    Still, without any facts, I will have to disagree with the conjecture that "English dialects are more intelligible than most languages".

    --
    H
     
  5. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    I’m with Holdadem in perhaps not agreeing with your premise.

    I don’t that that Spanish deviations from the standard are any more difficult for those who can speak Spanish than some English accents are for many Americans.

    Brazilian Portuguese sounds much different than that spoken in the mother country, but both are generally intelligible to speakers of Portuguese.

    A problem common to all of the languages is that often different words take on different connotations in different locations.

    For example, in most Spanish speaking countries, La Concha simply means shell. If you live in Argentina, it is a vulgarity in addition to dictionary meaning.
     
  6. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Heck, I don't speak a word of spanish, and it sounds vulgar to me [​IMG].

    --
    H
     
  7. Mitch Stevens

    Mitch Stevens Supporting Actor

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    I also disagree. English, for me, is extremely difficult to understand when I hear a British and even Irish Accent.

    I understand the Spanish langauge very well, though I can't actually speak it. However, when I watched the movie "Y Tu Mama Tambien" 99% of the words, I could NOT understand. I think it takes place in Mexico, and while I have spoken to many mexicans, not a single person from there, have ever spoken like the people in the movie.

    Thank god for subtitles!
     
  8. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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  9. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    Why in America they haven't used it for years....
     
  10. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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  11. Christ Reynolds

    Christ Reynolds Producer

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    how many other languages do you speak to compare this to? my gf speaks fluent spanish, and she has no problem understanding people from spain, and all the other 19 countries that have spanish as its official language. she can also understand quite a bit of portugese, and a lot of italian too. it makes sense, all those languages come from the same root language. the reason we can understand people from the uk and au is because despite the minor differences in pronounciation, we are all speaking the same language. the words are the same, the sentence structures are the same...so its no wonder that you can understand them.

    CJ
     
  12. Gui A

    Gui A Supporting Actor

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    I speak a Spanish dialect, Castellano. I have a few issues in understanding Spanish from Argentina and Spain, but I'm fine otherwise.

    The only time I've had difficulty was when an elderly Welsh couple came into work one day looking for their granddaughter...
    Spanish-accented English V. Welsh English... Boy. Sentences had to be thorughly processed before we could understand each other.
    They were really nice about it though.
     
  13. Ryan Peter

    Ryan Peter Screenwriter

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    Hmm...

    I think people can speak with a heavier dialect to people from their own region (in Y Tu Mama Tambien, they are speaking a thick & vulgar Chilango dialect), while speaking in a more regularized speech to people from outside their own region. In Spanish, I would say it's no different than French or English. In French, the French say the French Canadians speak "funny" with the way they formulate their words & sentences. In Spanish, there are differences between dialects, but 95% of the vocabulary is similar. People from different regions understand each other well when they consiously speak with their more standarized dialects.

    Gui: What's a Castellano accent like? I thought Castellano is the Spaniard/traditional word for Spanish & therefore basically a traditional Spanish accent/dialect? Did you mean Catalanian-Spanish dialect perchance?
     
  14. Gui A

    Gui A Supporting Actor

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    I'm not sure really. It's what my dad calls it. We're from Peru. And it pretty much sounds middle-of-the-road. It's hard to notice the nuances in your own accent, I think. It doesn't have the special Z sound like Spain's Spanish.
    I only speak spanish at home now. So I'm sure it's evolved into something different in 14 years.
     
  15. Jeff_Krueger

    Jeff_Krueger Stunt Coordinator

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    This is an interesting topic. I just got into Munich about two weeks ago for a study abroad program, of course right now Oktoberfest is going on and there are many people in town from all over the world. I've heard some Aussies speaking and there was definately a delay from hearing what they were saying to processing the accent and understanding what they were saying. They weren't speaking to me, I could just hear conversations amongst themsleves, and there was definately some things I couldn't even make out. What's fascinating to me is that considering the size of the US the variance in the accent across the country is much less than that of other countries like Germany or England which are much smaller but there is a great variance in the regional accent. I'm studying here in Munich to learn German over the course of the year but since Munich is in Bavaria I have to learn to understand Bayerisch which can sound greatly different than Hochdeutsch (normal high German like what they speak on TV) in fact I should probably be doing my German homework right now instead of reading HTF...

    Oh yeah I went California to visit a friend who had moved there from Michigan and many people said our michigan accent sounded canadian[​IMG]
     
  16. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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  17. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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  18. Clinton McClure

    Clinton McClure Casual Enthusiast

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    We planned it that way. All your base are belong to us.
     
  19. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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  20. Christ Reynolds

    Christ Reynolds Producer

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