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Questions regarding Southeast Asian languages.


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#1 Habsburg_Castillian

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 01:01 PM

Greetings,

As a foreigner, I ask the question:
Which S.E. Asain languages are mutually intelligible? Is this measurable in the same terms as Indo-European languages are? For example: Standard Spanish and Standard Portuguese, they are different but similiar enough for speakers to understand eachother overall. However, British English and Standard German have many similarities and are closely related yet, are not mutually intelligible.

So, how about Standard Chinese and Standard Japanese? Standard Korean and Standard Taiwanese? Standard Vienamese and Standard Thai?

-Gaijin Foreigner

#2 mrclub

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 09:05 PM

neither of the combinations you listed above are mutually intelligible

Edited by mrclub, 03 October 2009 - 09:05 PM.

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#3 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 10:57 PM

So, how about Standard Chinese and Standard Japanese? Standard Korean and Standard Taiwanese? Standard Vienamese and Standard Thai?

-Gaijin Foreigner


They are all mutually unintelligible, because they all belonged to different language families. That means to say, you won't be able to understand each other.
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#4 mrclub

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Posted 03 October 2009 - 11:05 PM

Japanese and Korean are language isolates

Chinese is a language of Sino-Tibetan languages.

Taiwanese is a dialect of Min Nan, which belongs to a larger Min group and is part of Sino-Tibetan languages. it is not mutually intelligible to Chinese.

Vietnamese belongs to Austro-Asiatic languages.

Thai belongs to Kradai languages.
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#5 One time poster

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 10:21 AM

Standard Thai is not mutually intelligible with Vietnamese, however the situation between Standard Thai and Standard Lao is probably similar to what you described with Standard Portuguese and Standard Spanish. They are normally not mutually intelligible, but they are similar enough that it isn't too big of an obstacle to learn to at least comprehend what the other was saying. There's differences in pronunciation, the same words may have different meanings in each language, some words are used more often in one language than the other and also some words which are unique to each particular language.

I'm not sure how Portuguese relates to the different Spanish regions, but for Laos their language is almost identical to the languages spoken in Northern and Northeastern Thailand. Combined those two regions of Thailand make up around 1/3 to perhaps even 1/2 of the country's population.

I've also heard it said that the German spoken in Bavaria is much more similar to Austrian than it does Standard German. Probably same situation here.

Edited by One time poster, 04 October 2009 - 10:29 AM.


#6 SNK_1408

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Posted 04 October 2009 - 07:04 PM

Greetings,

As a foreigner, I ask the question:
Which S.E. Asain languages are mutually intelligible? Is this measurable in the same terms as Indo-European languages are? For example: Standard Spanish and Standard Portuguese, they are different but similiar enough for speakers to understand eachother overall. However, British English and Standard German have many similarities and are closely related yet, are not mutually intelligible.

So, how about Standard Chinese and Standard Japanese? Standard Korean and Standard Taiwanese? Standard Vienamese and Standard Thai?

-Gaijin Foreigner


As for Chinese, Japanese and Korean languages, they are not mutually intelligible.
But because both Japanese and Korean use heavy loan words from ancient Chinese, they might pick up some words and beside this they won't understand each other.

I've heard Filipino Tagalog and Indonesian language have some similarity.

Edited by SNK_1408, 04 October 2009 - 07:04 PM.

역사를 보면 결국 힘있는 자가 힘없는 자를 정복하고 약탈하는 것입니다.
역사를 왜곡하는 민족은 반드시 멸망한다.
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#7 qrasy

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Posted 05 October 2009 - 07:13 AM

Nearly all the national languages are un-intelligible.

I guess only Standard Malay (Malaysia, Brunei) - Standard Indonesian (Indonesia) are really intelligible.
Nonstandard forms might not be intelligible, though.
Basically they can read each other's officially printed forms without much problem, though false friend do exist.

Tagalog might be similar to Malay, but generally they understand each other nothing; very few words have the same form.

Thai and Lao are very similar, and seem to be somewhat intelligible, but not too much.

 
Japanese and Korean loanwords from China are often quite different from each other in form, so they may not understand it beforehand.
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#8 AhMan

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 12:05 AM

I am not referring to the language itself, but there is a superficial relationship among these language based on the impression of sounds.
Before going to Korea, I sometimes I easily mistook between a Korean and a Japanese movie. I learned to tell them apart when I watched enough Korean dramas.
Sometimes walking on the street of Sydney, I heard a group of Thai talking and at first moment I mistook it for Vietnamese, especially the Middle region accent.
And if you go to Saigon, sometimes when you overhear a conversation in a noisy background between two locals, you may easily mistake it for Cantonese (the Cantonese of overseas Chinese in Saigon, not Hongkong standard Cantonese).
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#9 mrclub

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 12:47 AM

I am not referring to the language itself, but there is a superficial relationship among these language based on the impression of sounds.
Before going to Korea, I sometimes I easily mistook between a Korean and a Japanese movie. I learned to tell them apart when I watched enough Korean dramas.
Sometimes walking on the street of Sydney, I heard a group of Thai talking and at first moment I mistook it for Vietnamese, especially the Middle region accent.
And if you go to Saigon, sometimes when you overhear a conversation in a noisy background between two locals, you may easily mistake it for Cantonese (the Cantonese of overseas Chinese in Saigon, not Hongkong standard Cantonese).


Hmm, similarly, I also sometimes get mixed up with Korean language and Japanese language.

Thai and Vietnamese ? Vietnamese, to my ears, the tone sounds higher and sharper than Thai. Besides, Thais are generally much darker than Vietnamese, so somehow it would be quite easy to differentiate both of them. However, between Thai Burmese Lao, I will not be able to differentiate.

I think Vietnamese language has come sort of Cantonese influence
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#10 qrasy

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 11:15 AM

Thai and Vietnamese ? Vietnamese, to my ears, the tone sounds higher and sharper than Thai.

That really depends on which area of Vietnam. For North Vietnamese, I can distinguish it easily from the v and z, and the vowels often sound.. "tenser" than Thai.
And Thai often have the "rr" sound, which distinguishes itself from Lao that way.

I think Vietnamese language has come sort of Cantonese influence

For me they sound easily distinguishable.
Some high-frequency rounded vowels of Cantonese and high-frequency of unrounded vowel of Thai and Viet make them not sound like each other.
But then a language that has many tone levels can cause similar impression to those who are not used to them.

However, between Thai Burmese Lao, I will not be able to differentiate.

Burmese sound distinctively different simply from its simplified phonology. Not as simple as Japanese, though. It still has things like "toa" "pye".
The simplification make it sounds more "open" and "loose" than Thai/Lao. The tones are also very different.

Edited by qrasy, 26 March 2010 - 11:35 AM.

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#11 SkllZ

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Posted 24 November 2010 - 06:38 PM

thai and lao can understand each others and the writing almost the same.
vietnamese is considered a strange language to many. if someone speaks vietnamese fast, it sounds like thai or sometimes cambodian or sometimes cantonese. if someone speaks it slow, it sounds between mandarin and cantonese.
vietnamese has a lot of sh,j,s,ch like mandarin.

the reason why northern and southern vietnamese speak differently because of history. southern vietnamese used to belong to champa and some belong to cambodia. as well many chinese immigrated to southern vietnam, and so they speak viet with these accent.

Edited by SkllZ, 24 November 2010 - 06:40 PM.


#12 qrasy

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Posted 25 November 2010 - 12:00 PM

thai and lao can understand each others and the writing almost the same.

Assuming it were a dialect continuum, the Northern Thai would understand Lao easily but Southern ones can't really understand them.

vietnamese is considered a strange language to many. if someone speaks vietnamese fast, it sounds like thai or sometimes cambodian or sometimes cantonese. if someone speaks it slow, it sounds between mandarin and cantonese.

That's common with perceptions of people who are not familiar with the languages. "... sounds like [put another language here]" is typical statement even when they are not that similar.
As one becomes more familiar with the languages, perception changes, however.
Once I became familiar with how Korean really sound, it less often sound like Japanese.

vietnamese has a lot of sh,j,s,ch like mandarin.

Depends on which region, actually.

southern vietnamese used to belong to champa and some belong to cambodia. as well many chinese immigrated to southern vietnam, and so they speak viet with these accent.

I wonder if there are really Champa and Cambodian influences there?
And don't forget that Northern Viets also developed some "lazy sounds" that "made s sound like x".
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One thing is for certain: the more profoundly baffled you have been in your life, the more open your mind becomes to new ideas. - Neil deGrasse Tyson

#13 SkllZ

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Posted 05 December 2010 - 10:51 AM

japanese and korean sound completely different.
i consider mysel lucky to have experence with many languages and accents. I'm Northern Vietnamese but born in the South. My family speaks northern accent and my city speaks southern accent. Then I also can speak Mandarin and many of my friends speak Cantonese.
I think for Vietnamese, It depends on who speaks it. Northern, Central and Southern sound completely different from each others.

I wonder if there are really Champa and Cambodian influences there?
And don't forget that Northern Viets also developed some "lazy sounds" that "made s sound like x".

I think both northern and southern pronouns s as x because of laziness, especially the youngster. all my uncles from northern use s when speaking. Also now in Hanoi, many young people tends to pronouns N as L Ha Noi -> Ha Loi
the only problems with Northern is they like to pronoun tr as gi -> troi oi, gioi oi.
ưu sound, they pronouns as iu -> con hưu , con hiu . cứu tôi, cíu tôi. nghiên cứu, nghiên cíu

southern people like to pronounce v as y -> viet, yiet
tr pronouns as ch -> trời ơi, chời ơi
then all the r,d,gi sounds, they pronoun as d.

Maybe there're champa or cambodia influence. Southern accent, especially Saigon is influence the most by Cantonese. Before 1975, half of Saigon was Cantonese people.
Mien Tay/ Ca Mau area influenced by Cambodian and Champa.

So, how about Standard Chinese and Standard Japanese? Standard Korean and Standard Taiwanese? Standard Vienamese and Standard Thai?

Haha. If Vietnam still keeps Chinese characters as official writing. Then you can say they're mutually intelligible in some extend.
The latin Vietnamese script is actually new, it's introduced in the 19th century
and actually vietnamese grammar and chinese grammar is not much different except chinese put adj before noun and vietnamese put adj after noun.

example of old vietnamese script:
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我媽媽 | 常常 | 每 | 星期七 | 在寺| 吃齋。
Má tôi | thường | mỗi | chủ nhật | ở chùa | ăn chay

Edited by SkllZ, 05 December 2010 - 11:29 AM.


#14 qrasy

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Posted 05 December 2010 - 11:21 AM

I don't think so.

Which part are you referring to?

But now in Hanoi, many young people tends to pronouns N as L Ha Noi -> Ha Loi

I heard this is countryside accent or something?

the only problems with Northern is they like to pronoun tr as gi -> troi oi, gioi oi.

Which part of the Northern areas?

ưu sound, they pronouns as iu -> con hưu , con hiu . cứu tôi, cíu tôi. nghiên cứu, nghiên cíu

Do you mean simply "sounds like" or "pronounced identically with"?

southern people like to pronounce v as y -> viet, yiet

What I meant was, which Southern sound changes do you suspect to be Champa and Cambodian influence?

tr pronouns as ch -> trời ơi, chời ơi
then all the r,d,gi sounds, they pronoun as d.

This one sounds like certain parts of Northern Vietnam, though.

Haha. If Vietnam still keeps Chinese characters as official writing. Then you can say they're mutually intelligible in some extend.

That really comes back to your definition of "mutual intelligible".
I mean, when Korean and Japanese are written in mixed script, many words are also identifiable by Chinese.

All those are only in writing, though.

European words in Indonesian are also easily identifiable. This time even in a connected speech.

Edited by qrasy, 05 December 2010 - 11:22 AM.

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One thing is for certain: the more profoundly baffled you have been in your life, the more open your mind becomes to new ideas. - Neil deGrasse Tyson

#15 SkllZ

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Posted 05 December 2010 - 11:40 AM

I just re-edited some parts. You may want to reread it

I heard this is countryside accent or something?

that's a problem with Hanoi now. Many true Hanoi people moved to the South, and many people from outside districts move to Hanoi.

Which part of the Northern areas?

I don't know. Like my whole family from grandma to my mother, aunties pronouns it that way. Only my dad and my uncle pronouns as tr. I guess it only applies to female.

Do you mean simply "sounds like" or "pronounced identically with"?

they sound completely different. ưu sound and iu sound.

That really comes back to your definition of "mutual intelligible".
I mean, when Korean and Japanese are written in mixed script, many words are also identifiable by Chinese.

Unfortunately, I don't have any resources about the old scripts of Japanese and Korean. But I know for Vietnamese, the mixed scripts were only popular in 17-18th century. Before that, Vietnamese used Chinese scripts to write all the Vietnamese documents. Even though the mixed scripts was invented in 13th century, it's too hard, even harder than Chinese and only the elites learned it.
I mean if Vietnamese still use Chinese characters, even though the speech is different from Chinese but in writing, both sides can understand each others. Is it not mutual intelligible?

Edited by SkllZ, 05 December 2010 - 11:48 AM.





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