Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 02-12-2020, 05:06 PM
Hari Seldon is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Trantor
Posts: 13,553

Mutual intelligibility among low German languages


I have long wondered about mutual intelligibility among the following languages:
Dutch, Flemish, Afrikaans, Frisian, and north German coast Plattdeutsch.
  #2  
Old 02-12-2020, 05:22 PM
The Butterfly's Ghost is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 154
I'm German, from the rhineland area. I understand Plattdeutsch rather well but I can't speak it apart from a few phrases (my first husband is from there and he taught me).
Dutch in the other hand is really hard for me, it's a real foreign language. I might understand the odd word, but not much more...
  #3  
Old 02-12-2020, 05:56 PM
EinsteinsHund's Avatar
EinsteinsHund is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: NRW, Germany
Posts: 3,436
I have an anecdote from my grandma, who spoke Sauerländer Platt (it's important to stress the fact that almost every village in Northern Germany has (or rather HAD, since Platt is waning everywhere) its own slightly differing version of Platt). She used to tell an incident from her youth when she was taking a walk with a friend in a park in Bonn, and they got to know a Dutch couple. My grandma also spoke perfect High German, but she told that she conversed with the Dutch people easily, she using her Platt and they their native Dutch.

Now I don't know Platt anymore (like almost my whole generation), though I understand a bit of it, and many words from Platt entered my still spoken local (Westphalian) dialect. I also make quite good guesses at written Dutch texts knowing German, a bit of Platt and English, but I'm absolutely unable to follow a Dutch conversation or radio program.
__________________
And if my thought-dreams could be seen
They’d probably put my head in a guillotine
  #4  
Old 02-12-2020, 06:02 PM
thelurkinghorror is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Venial Sin City
Posts: 14,150
I don't know of any linguists who consider Flemish a language. It's a dialect of Dutch and highly intelligible. Afrikaans has diverged enough to be a language but it's intelligibility is fairly high with Dutch with some difficulty. Limburgish too.

From what I understand, Frisian is a group of languages that aren't even intelligible amongst themselves, but West Frisian is most widely spoken and the one you've probably heard of. It's in between Dutch and English enough to be somewhat familiar in the words but not very intelligible.
  #5  
Old 02-12-2020, 06:06 PM
zimaane is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: washington, dc
Posts: 1,137
My Flemish friend told me a while back that he has little difficulty understanding Dutch, and vice versa.
  #6  
Old 02-12-2020, 06:17 PM
glee is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Obama country
Posts: 15,843
I met a Dutchman and a South African chap at a chess tournament. They could analyse their chess game perfectly well using just Dutch and Afrikaans.

So that's a technical conversation proving the two languages are very compatible.
  #7  
Old 02-12-2020, 10:29 PM
Gary T is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: KCMO
Posts: 11,405
I studied German in school, which would have been Hochdeutsch, and found that speakers of Dutch could pretty well understand me. I don't remember if I understood them.
  #8  
Old 02-13-2020, 01:08 AM
Die Capacitrix's Avatar
Die Capacitrix is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Switzerland
Posts: 332
Quote:
Originally Posted by EinsteinsHund View Post
.... I also make quite good guesses at written Dutch texts knowing German, a bit of Platt and English, but I'm absolutely unable to follow a Dutch conversation or radio program.
I've never learned Plattdeutsch, but if I try to read Dutch outloud, using my understanding of Hochdeutsch and English, I can get the idea of the text. Useful for reading Dutch beer bottles.
  #9  
Old 02-13-2020, 08:55 AM
Isosleepy's Avatar
Isosleepy is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Pittsburgh
Posts: 2,093
It is easier for Flemish speakers to understand dutch than vice versa, but a Dutch speaker will still easily understand Flemish. Conversations about complex issues can be had with each speaker only using their own language.
It is easier for a Dutch speaker to understand Afrikaans than vice versa. The difference is greater than between Flemish and Dutch. Reading Afrikaans is easier than listening to it, for me (grew up Dutch)

Frisian is somewhere between English and Dutch, with lotsa extras. I had a Frisian roommate in college, when he spoke with another Frisian, I could track every 5th word or so.

I had a roommate from Cologne in grad school. He could get the gist of my Dutch conversations, so I would think a conversation about simple issues could be had with a Dutch speaker and someone who spoke Kölsch platt.
With my Dutch and German I can track north coast Plattdeutsch. I think with just Dutch that’d be hard.
This brings up the point that mutual intelligibility is hard to ascertain in practice here - you will find few Dutch speakers who truly understand only Dutch.
When I was very young there were still people who spoke the town dialect, which I understood and spoke to an extent. The dialect of the next town over was unintelligible to me, but then I had not yet learned any additional languages. (These west coast town dialects seemed to have some Frisian influence, by the way, and lots of vowel shifts. )

Last edited by Isosleepy; 02-13-2020 at 08:56 AM.
  #10  
Old 02-13-2020, 09:56 AM
GreenWyvern's Avatar
GreenWyvern is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Cape Town
Posts: 2,027
What about Yiddish?

It's also a Germanic language, mostly derived from Old High German. This page says Yiddish is not a dialect of German, but there is a reasonable amount of mutual intelligibility.

Quote:
Much like Spanish and Portuguese or Swedish and Danish, Yiddish and German are similar and with a short amount of practice one can begin to understand the other language.
  #11  
Old 02-13-2020, 10:39 AM
Hari Seldon is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Trantor
Posts: 13,553
Yes but Yiddish is not a low German language. My parents once had a German neighbor and my father--whose mother tongue was Yiddish--could communicate with him with some difficulty.

I also understand that there is a part of the NW German coast whose language is called Frisian.
  #12  
Old 02-13-2020, 10:51 AM
Isosleepy's Avatar
Isosleepy is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Pittsburgh
Posts: 2,093
The Frisian on the German NW coast is North-Frisian. The “main” Frisian (as in, with most speakers) is West-Frisian, spoken in Friesland in the Netherlands, a couple of islands, and a little in nearby areas. West Frisian has many Dutch influences, and North Frisian has German and Danish influences, and there have been enough shifts over time on top of that, that they are not, or no longer, mutually intelligible. Both are Frisian languages, not dialects of another language. There is also East-Frisian, spoken in Germany’s East Frisia, which isn’t a Frisian language but a Low Franconian dialect, if I remember correctly. East Frisian I can track pretty easily, not so for West Frisian, and North Frisian is as intelligible as Danish to me. (I can figure some words, but cannot track even a simple conversation)

Last edited by Isosleepy; 02-13-2020 at 10:56 AM.
  #13  
Old 02-13-2020, 11:47 AM
gnoitall is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 6,079
North Frisian is interesting. It's a linguistic kin (in the Anglo-Frisian group) to English, since a predecessor to North Frisian was kin to Anglo-Saxon, which became Old English.

I've never tried to track a conversation in North Frisian, so I don't know about the mutual intelligibility, but on-line resources seem to show that many root words (counting, family relationships, etc.) are pronounced almost identically to the English equivalents.
  #14  
Old 02-13-2020, 12:26 PM
bordelond's Avatar
bordelond is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: La Rive Ouest
Posts: 10,703
For the sake of examples: Aachen, Germany and Maastricht, The Netherlands are less than 40 km (25 mi) apart by train. Are the local dialects close to intelligible?
  #15  
Old 02-13-2020, 01:11 PM
polar bear is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 1,139
In that area of the Netherlands, the dialects van be so strong that they won't understand you one village over. That's why pretty much all people speak normal Dutch as well.



Verstuurd vanaf mijn moto g(6) met Tapatalk
  #16  
Old 02-14-2020, 01:13 AM
kk fusion is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 538
Quote:
Originally Posted by Isosleepy View Post
There is also East-Frisian, spoken in Germany’s East Frisia, which isn’t a Frisian language but a Low Franconian dialect, if I remember correctly.
The language spoken today in East Frisia (thus often inaccurately called East Frisian) is a Low German variety.

There is an actual East Frisian language, and there is even a pocket where it is still spoken today: the Saterland. Seeltersk, as the language is called by the locals, has survived among a couple of thousand people who had lived there, isolated by bogs and moors and with little contact to the Low-German-speaking world around them.
  #17  
Old 02-14-2020, 01:26 AM
nearwildheaven is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 13,544
Wiki describes the phenomenon and lists some prominent examples, although I don't see Frisian here.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutual...f_one_language
  #18  
Old 02-14-2020, 08:06 AM
MrDibble's Avatar
MrDibble is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Cape Town, South Africa &
Posts: 27,375
I speak Afrikaans natively, and I understand Dutch/Vlaams well enough, but written way more than spoken. I actually find spoken Vlaams a little easier to understand than spoken normal Dutch.
  #19  
Old 02-14-2020, 06:15 PM
Hari Seldon is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Trantor
Posts: 13,553
Quote:
Originally Posted by nearwildheaven View Post
Wiki describes the phenomenon and lists some prominent examples, although I don't see Frisian here.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutual...f_one_language
Thanks. That was interesting.
  #20  
Old 02-14-2020, 10:38 PM
Northern Piper is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: The snow is back, dammit!
Posts: 30,519
Previous thread on English-Frisian, started in 2004, necromanced in 2016:

https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...d.php?t=250206
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 04:06 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2019 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017