Category Archives: Italo-Celtic-Tocharian

Check Out Furniello Berciano

This is an extremely interesting lect being spoken here. It looks more like Furniello spoken in the Fornela Valley region around where Asturias, Leon and Galicia all come together. The language itself looks something like Berciano, Western Asturian or Eastern Galician.

Here are some of my notes on this language:

Forniellu is spoken in the Fornela Valley in and around the towns of Guimara, Peranzanes, and Transcastro. It is a mixture of Leonese, Asturian, Galician and Castillian. It is probably not intelligible with Galician. It is difficult to place this lect. Formally it is considered to be transitional between Leonese and Galician, but it is more likely to be Leonese transitional to Galician. This is sometimes said to be part of Berciano. Best characterized as Leonese. Intelligibility with Fabieru Berciano speakers from nearby Fabero nine miles to the south is excellent.

The people in this area say that they speak Galician, but the truth is they are really speaking Leonese or Berciano. When Berciano speakers go to Galicia, they are not understood, so Berciano is not a type of Galician.

I was utterly lost with this old lady’s story. I could hear a few words now and then, but it wasn’t enough to figure out what she was talking about. After seven minutes, I did not have the slightest idea of what she was talking about. You are listening to it and thinking, “You know, this really does sound like Spanish…” but then you still can’t seem to make out of a word of it. To my untrained ear, it also seems to sound like some sort of a Portuguese-Spanish mix.

If you can speak Spanish or Portuguese, see how much Furniellu you can understand.

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Filed under Asturian, Galician, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Italic, Italo-Celtic, Italo-Celtic-Tocharian, Language Families, Language Samples, Leonese, Linguistics, Romance, Spanish

Is Romance Mutual Intelligibility Overrated?

Paul S. writes:

I can speak Spanish decently, though I read it better, and that wasn’t a tough read. That being said, I can read Portuguese pretty well too and can’t understand it spoken much at all.

Well try doing research in Portuguese then. I can speak a bit of Portuguese, and I have been trying to read it for some time now. Lately I am doing a lot of research, and much of it is in Spanish. I use translators a lot, but even then I have to go back to the original Spanish. I can do research ok in Spanish, but it is not real easy.

I also run across a lot of Portuguese, Galician and Asturian. Research is quite hard in all of these. I am having an extremely hard time reading Portuguese, and previously I thought I could read it fairly well. Also I have a friend in Brazil, and she used to send me mails all the time in Portuguese, and honestly, I was pretty lost reading that stuff. I think Spanish-Portuguese written intelligibility is overrated.

I cannot understand much spoken Portuguese either. I watched a clip on Youtube the other day about some city council meeting in a town on the Spanish-Portuguese border, and I could not understand a word they said.

I have a feeling that the oral intelligibility of Romance is also overrated. You hear a lot of anecdotes. Eonavians said that Western Asturians could not understand one word of Eonavian, which is a Western Asturian-Eastern Galician transitional dialect!

Castillian speakers who went to Valencia to live said that after seven years, they still could not understand one word of Valencian and Catalan spoken at normal speed. However, they could understand TV announcers in those lects very well because the announcers used Castillian intonation as opposed to Catalan/Valencian intonation.

Some people from the north of Spain say that they cannot understand a single word of the hard Andalucian spoken on the streets of the big cities.

Commenter James Schipper lived in Brazil for years and is fluid in Portuguese. However, he only understood 40% of the strange lect spoken in Hermisende, Zamora, in Spain. Linguists say that this is a Galician dialect with heavy Portuguese influence and significant Leonese influences. On some linguistic maps, it is colored as a Portuguese dialect.

He was also able to understand only 25% of Alistano Leonese.

And we haven’t even left the Iberian Peninsula yet!

A while back, in a large city in northern Italy, an old woman had become lost. They took her into the police station and she was chattering away for a few hours. They kept asking her questions but she did not understand them as she didn’t speak Standard Italian. People had all sorts of theories on where she was from. Some thought Greece, and there were many other guesses. Finally a worker came in who was familiar with the strange Western Lombard dialect from the high northern Italian mountains that she spoke. The old lady and the cops all spoke a Northern Italian dialect, and none of them could understand the old lady.

On the border of France and Italy in and around the city of Menton near Nice, a lect called Mentonasque is spoken. It is close to the old language of Nizzard spoken in Nice. This is an Occitan-Ligurian transitional dialect, a halfway between Maritime Provencal Occitan spoken in France and Ligurian spoken in Italy. Nevertheless, Mentonasque speakers say that they cannot understand a word of the Ligurian spoken in Italy. And linguists now see Mentonasque as a Ligurian dialect!

One would think that if these languages were that close, one could learn one or another of them pretty easily. To some extent this is true, but not to the extent of dialects of a single tongue or very closely related languages where you can adjust fairly easy over a period of 1 hour-3 weeks.

For instance, in Asturias, there are many Castillian speakers who have been living there for some time who simply state that they cannot understand Asturian. If they were really so close, one would think they would have picked it up easily over the years.

Down in the Bierzo zone transitional between the Leonese and Galician languages, there are Castillian speakers who have been living there for years who cannot understand Leonese, Galician or Berciano. With languages like that being spoken around them all the time, one would think they would have picked up them easily over the years.

The truth is that these languages are not as close as they seem, and much has to do with intonation as the example of the Castillian speaker living in Valencia indicates. In addition, one way to tell that you are dealing with a separate language and not a dialect of a single tongue is that the other language doesn’t necessarily get easier to understand the more you hear it. The factor of motivation cannot be ruled out. The Castillian speakers above who cannot understand Galician, Leonese, Berciano, Asturian, Valencian, Catalan or Andalucian have obviously never taken the time to try to learn the language. They simply cannot be bothered. If people do not want to try to learn a language, even a very closely related one spoken around them all the time, they simply will not learn it.

It is said that after 2-3 months of close contact, a Castillian speaker can pick up Aragonese, Catalan, Asturian, Leonese or Galician. But that is if one is sufficiently motivated. The powerful variable of motivation in language learning cannot be underestimated.

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Filed under Andalucian, Applied, Aragonese, Asturian, Catalan, Dialectology, Europe, France, Galician, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Italic, Italo-Celtic, Italo-Celtic-Tocharian, Italy, Language Families, Language Learning, Leonese, Linguistics, Multilingualism, Occitan, Portuguese, Regional, Romance, Sociolinguistics, Spain, Spanish

Research in a Foreign Language

Lately I have been doing a lot of research on Iberian Romance languages. I tend to dive into one subject and then I often just tunnel away at it like a tunnel rat until it feels like I am one of the world’s leading experts on the subject. Then at some point, when I have completely tunneled out the subject as far deep as I want to tunnel, I move over to something else and I am might start tunneling away at that one too.

Research is a blast to me. I could research all day and all night to my heart’s content. I usually take notes while I am doing it, and I am typically formulating hypotheses, testing them out, seeing the results, drawing conclusions, and then changing my conclusions around. What is great is that when you do research all of these new questions keep popping up. Questions that don’t have very obvious answers. Some of the questions are suggested by others, and others I dredge up myself just by looking at the data. For a given subject, at times there are  number of competing theories that try to explain the data. I like to work through the theories and try to figure out which one fits the data best.

Plus I get to get away from the frequently ugly world of other humans and politics and just wallow away in something fun. People can be a pain sometimes and politics often just makes me depressed and angry. Like real depressed and real angry. But the stuff I research about is often outside of politics. Or if there is politics involved, I could care less about those particular issues because they are not important to me.

So for Iberian Romance, unfortunately, there is but a limited amount of data in English. Much of the data is in, you guessed it, Spanish! Quite a bit is also in Portuguese. Some of it is Galician. And unfortunately some of it is in Asturian or Extremaduran. You can use translators to translate some of these languages, but the translators do not work real well. A lot of times when the translation looks a bit funny, you go back to the original language and then compare that L2 with the English translation. For Spanish, Galician and even Portuguese, I can often figure out what they are really trying to say by looking at the original text and the English translation.

Some of the data is in online books, and those are written in Spanish only. Not only that, but there is no way to translate it from the books. So you just have to work your way through the Spanish and try to glean what you can get out of it. It is not as hard as it seems.

I was amazed at how well I can read Portuguese, but I must say, reading Portuguese is dramatically more difficult than reading Spanish.

Galician is sort of in between. It is like Portuguese with a lot of Spanish mixed in, so it seems easier to read than Portuguese.

Asturian and the few texts in Extremaduran are total disasters. I really do not have the foggiest clue what they are saying. The written standard for both languages is very odd and even if you can understand Spanish, Galician and Portuguese fairly well, good look with Asturian!

Anyway, if any of you had to do research in a foreign language, could you do it? Have you ever done research or in depth type reading in any language (L2) other than your native language (L1)? If so, tell us what your native language is and what languages you are capable of doing research or in depth reading in.

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Filed under Asturian, Galician, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Italic, Italo-Celtic, Italo-Celtic-Tocharian, Language Families, Linguistics, Portuguese, Romance, Scholarship, Spanish

La Almedilha Portuguese

Portuguese is spoken in several places in Spain. One of those places is the town of Al Almedilha in Salamanca Province, where it is spoken right on the border with Portugal. This area was part of Portugal until the 1100’s when the kingdom of Leon conquered it for Spain. Nobody is very sure about what this language is. Linguists are uncertain whether this lect is Galician, Portuguese or Extremaduran.

Intelligibility with Portuguese is not known, but speakers got subtitles in a Galician documentary. It is strikingly similar to the Fala Galician spoken in the nearby Xalima Valley. But Fala is intelligible with Galician, so then why the subtitles for Galicians listening to La Almedilha? The implications are that this lect is not fully intelligible with Galician. Galician speakers say this lect is not Galician. Portuguese speakers who hear this say it sounds like the Portuguese spoken in far northeastern Portugal.

However, older reports from 1962 said that this was a Senabrese Leonese dialect with some Portuguese influences. In that case, it would be similar to Mirandese, Rio de Onorese and Guadramiles, and it may be more similar to . Mirandese than anything else. It would be interesting to see how intelligible this lect is to Mirandese speakers.

Actually what this looks like more than anything else is the remains of the old Galician-Portuguese language that is still spoken in the Baxia Limao and Tras os Montes region of far northeastern Portugal. This language is also called either Old Portuguese, Old Galician or Medieval Galician. It was spoken and written in Portugal and Galicia from 800-1516. This also sounds a lot like Brazilian Portuguese. Galician also sounds like Brazilian Portuguese. This is because Brazil was colonized by Portuguese from the northern part of Portugal, so they continue to speak with a Northern Portuguese/Galician accent.

If you speak Portuguese, could you listen to this woman’s speech and tell me whether you can understand it or not?

I understood some of it, but then I do not really understand Portuguese anyway.

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Filed under Europe, Galician, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Italic, Italo-Celtic, Italo-Celtic-Tocharian, Language Families, Linguistics, Portugal, Portuguese, Regional, Romance, Spain

Alistano Leonese

As you can see, I really love Romance languages and I especially love Iberian Romance, probably because I understand, speak, read and even write Spanish pretty well. Hence, all of the Iberian Romance languages related to Spanish are pretty interesting to me.

I am finally figuring this show out. The announcer, who I previously thought was speaking some sort of Castillianized Asturian, is instead simply speaking Castillian Spanish. It is hard to understand because I cannot understand Castillian very well.

This clip is interesting. The announcer speaks Castillian all the way through it, but the 88 year old man speaks two languages. For most of the clip he speaks Castillian, but it is apparently so Leonized that I had the darnedest time understanding. So let us call his speech Leonese Castillian. At one point, the announcer asks him to speak something in Alistano and then he breaks into a short tale in Alistano. This starts at 3:54 and goes until 5:13. Then he goes back to his Leonese Castillian again. The Alistano was almost comical-sounding and I could barely get a single word of it. It almost sounded like a language from outer space.

If you can speak Spanish, see how well you can understand:

1. The Castillian of the announcer.

2. The strange Leonese Castillian of the old man.

3. The Alistano Leonese from 3:54 to 5:13.

Here are a couple of maps.

This shows the Asturian-Leonese language area at this time.

This shows the Asturian-Leonese language area at this time.

Western Asturian-Leonese is spoken in the orange area, except that Mirandese seems to be a separate language. In Leon, it is called Western Leonese and in Asturias, it is called Western Asturian. Western Asturian still has a lot of speakers. Western Leonese and Western Asturian do not seem to differ a lot. Western Leonese is the only Leonese that is in decent shape at all.

The green area is called Central Astur-Leonese. The Asturian standard is set in Central Asturias, which is where most of the speakers are. Leonese speakers dislike this standard because it is far from what they speak. This is one of the arguments they use to say that Leonese is a separate language from Asturian. As you can see, Central Leonese is in quite bad shape.

The brown area is Eastern Asturian-Leonese. The dialect is in quite bad shape. Even Eastern Asturian is not doing well. Eastern Leonese is almost dead, but it still has a few speakers.

The map shows the brown area extending into the western half of Cantabria, but this is not correct, as the lect spoken in Cantabria is Cantabrian, not Asturian, and it seems to be another language altogether. Cantabrian is frequently said to be dead, but that does not seem to be the case. There were monolingual speakers until very recently.

They had stubbornly refused to learn Castillian as they considered it to be an imposed language. In the mountains of Cantabria, as 2007, children were still showing up in school speaking a relatively pure Cantabrian. There were frequent complaints of teachers not being able to understand their students. As recently as 2003, a relatively pure Cantabrian could still be heard on a daily basis in the mountains. Cantabrian is best seen as an Asturian-Castillian transitional language.

Cantabrian seems to be together with Extremaduran in a single tongue, Cantabrian-Extremaduran. Both seem to represent far extensions of Eastern Leonese. In the case of Extremaduran, this is an Eastern Leonese dialect that got isolated down in Extremadura with the rapid expansion of Castillian. Extremaduran is intelligible with Cantabrian, but not with Central Asturian. This implies that we have two separate languages here.

The blue area on the map is Galician-Portuguese. The border between Galician and Portuguese is the red line on the far right of the picture. Galician is not well understood in Portugal, but people on the border speak a different lect that is intelligible on both sides of the border in the Minho and in Tras Os Montes. This lect looks Galician-Portuguese transitional, but it seems to be more Galician than Portuguese. In the Spanish part of the Minho, few residents speak Castillian because they have no use for it as all of their trade is across the border with Portugal. Spanish Minho speakers say that Minho Galician is not understood well outside of the Minho.

The yellow zone seems to be an area that was formerly Galician-speaking but has now gone over to Castillian. However, the Castillian in this area is heavily Leonized as you can see in the clip above. Castilian influence on Leonese was strongest in the south as this area is a lot less rugged so the language could penetrate easier. Up in the north, the Astur-Leonese area is very mountainous so Castillian had a harder time penetrating. Many towns still have only a poor road or even no road connecting them with the outside world.

Leonese in Zamora.

Leonese in Zamora.

A better view of the languages of Zamora. As you can see, the far west of the province is indeed Galician speaking. The bright orange area is Leonese speaking, but Leonese here is in very bad shape and in many places, it is dying out. The yellow area is Castillian with heavy Leonese influence. The light area is some sort of a Leonese-Castillian transition zone. However, I would argue that Leonese is in terrible shape in the light orange area and is almost extinct in its purer form. Nevertheless, the speech here is quite Leonized.

Aliste on the map is where the Alistano speaker in the video is from. As you can see, it is at the far southern end of Leonese, and this is where Castillian influence was strongest.

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Filed under Asturian, Europe, Galician, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Italic, Italo-Celtic, Italo-Celtic-Tocharian, Language Families, Language Samples, Leonese, Linguistics, Portuguese, Regional, Romance, Spain, Spanish

Asina Falamos

A very nice documentary about the Leonese language spoken in Leon today. As you can see, in some towns there are still children speakers. In other places, most are middle aged or elderly.

If you can speak Spanish or Portuguese, see how much of this Leonese you can get. Cover up the subtitles to make it harder. Even after a full 30 minutes of this, I still could barely make out any of this language. Some speakers do not get subtitles. Their lect also sounded very strange, but then Castillian sounds odd to me. One middle aged tailor seems to be speaking Castillian with heavy Leonese influence. The professor is simply speaking Castillian, but I still had a hard time with her because Castillian Spanish is hard for me to hear. The young librarian from Astorga gets subtitles, but he is a lot easier to understand. I assume he is speaking some sort of Leonese with heavy Castillian influences.

If you can speak Spanish or Portuguese, see how much you can understand of:

Any of the Leonese speakers.

The tailor speaking Leonese-Castillian.

The professor speaking Standard Castillian.

The librarian speaking Castillianized Leonese.

I really enjoyed this video. The scenery is incredible. This is an area of high mountains and it gets quite cold in the winter. In fact, it is not unusual for it to snow here! The villages are ancient, located in steep mountains and hard to access. The houses look like the type of ancient homes they have been building here for hundreds of years. Clearly this is a very isolated area. The economic prospects in this area are not good, so many young people move away to make money. Nevertheless, there is a certain joyous and timeless way of life here that I found utterly charming. It sure would be a beautiful and wonderful place to visit just to see a rustic way of life.

 

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Filed under Europe, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Italic, Italo-Celtic, Italo-Celtic-Tocharian, Language Families, Leonese, Linguistics, Regional, Romance, Spain, Spanish

Check Out Porteño

In the town of Hermisende that squats right on the borders of Zamora (Leonese speaking), Galicia (Galician speaking) and and Portugal (Portuguese speaking), a very strange dialect called Porteño is spoken. It is referred to as either Portuguese or Galician. It also has substantial Leonese influences. The best analysis seems to be that this is a Galician dialect with heavy Portuguese influences and substantial Leonese influences. However, in the comments below the video, a commenter says, “This is not Galician. If it soudns like anything, it sounds more like Portuguese from the 1800’s.”

There are a number of villages in the municipality and they all speak this dialect. Any village’s lect is similar to whichever monolingual village is closest. If the village is closest to a Galician-speaking village, the speech is more Galician. If it is closest to a Leonese-speaking village, the talk is more Leonese. And if it is closer to a Portuguese-speaking village, the speech is more Portuguese.

The Galicians are trying to claim this town as a Galician-speaking town as per current Galician politics. Political Galicianism is trying to claim as many areas outside of Galicia as possible as part of the Galician-speaking world. They have claimed much of the Bierzo region in Leon, although Berciano is probably not a Galician dialect, and it may be more Leonese. Berciano is a Leonese-Galician transitional dialect, but in most places it looks more Leonese than Galician. Even in the supposedly Galician-speaking part of the zone such as the city of Cacabelos, Berciano speakers say that when they go to Galicia, they are not understood.

They are also claiming Eonavian on the borders of the Asturian and Galician speaking areas, although the all but the elderly Eonavian speakers say they cannot really understand Galician. This is because they do not have much exposure to the language and also their Eonavian is heavily Castillianized. This seems to have originally been a dialect of Galician transitional to Asturian (note that older speakers can understand Galician), but it now changing into an independent language.

They do claim the Fala spoken in Caceres, Spain, and in fact, this is a Galician dialect with Leonese and Old Castillian influences.

The Galicianists are also trying to claim Senabrian Leonese. Senabrian is a Western Leonese dialect with heavy Galician influence, however, it is not intelligible with Galician.

And now it appears that the Galicianists are trying to claim Porteño. Hermisende is interesting because the southern part of the municipality speaks Eastern Porteño and the northern part speaks Central Porteño. Rather odd to have two dialects spoken in the same place.

The announcer at the beginning is speaking “TV Galician.” Many Spaniards say they are able to understand this speech well. However, this is sort of a fake Galician that is heavily Castillianized. I can actually understand quite a bit of the first announcer myself with some Spanish background. Then we move on the Porteño speakers. We meet a few of them, and they all speak a very different fala than the announcer speaks. In fact, I did not really understand what they were saying. At the end, we move on to a professor of Galician who seems to speak a harder Galician. I found him a lot harder to understand than the first announcer.

If you speak Spanish or Portuguese, check out this video and tell me how much you can understand of each:

TV Galician announcer at the start.

Porteño speakers.

Harder Galician speaking professor at the end.

 

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Filed under Asturian, Dialectology, Galician, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Italic, Italo-Celtic, Italo-Celtic-Tocharian, Language Families, Leonese, Linguistics, Portuguese, Romance, Sociolinguistics

Check Out Cabreirés Leonese

Cabreirés is spoken in southwestern Leon near the Galician border north of the Senabrese speaking area in Zamora to the south.

This is a clip from a video called Asina Falamos which is a documentary of the Leonese language produced in the region. The man is much easier to understand. I believe he is speaking Asturian. His Asturian is very clear. I am not sure if this is what the pure Asturian sounds like or if his is heavily influenced by Castillian. At any rate, I can only understand him about half the time even though he speaks clearly.

I can barely understand a single word of what this woman is saying. Her language sounds like she took Castillian and ran it through a Vegematic.

The last half of the video the woman is speaking most of the time. She is apparently telling a story in Leonese. The only thing that I got out of it is that this story seems to have something to do with a dog.

It is interesting that they are able to communicate even though he is speaking Asturian and she is speaking Leonese.

If you can speak Spanish or Portuguese, see how much of this you can make out.

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Filed under Asturian, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Italic, Italo-Celtic, Italo-Celtic-Tocharian, Language Families, Language Samples, Leonese, Linguistics, Romance

Check Out Senabrese Leonese

I can speak Spanish fairly well, not perfectly, and my understanding of it is adequate though not perfect by any means. This short video is narrated in Senabrese Leonese, which is still pretty widely spoken in northwestern Zamora, Spain on the Portuguese border near the border with southwestern Leon. Some Senabrese lects have heavy Galician, Castillian and even Portuguese influence.

At least one of them is considered an excellent representative of the Leonese language as spoken in the 1100’s and 1200’s. There are also some so-called Galician dialects spoken in this region, however, they are apparently not intelligible with Galician proper. The Senabrese Galician and Senabrese Leonese have much in common with each other and are essentially the same language.

Honestly, I really did not have the faintest idea of what this fellow was talking about. I kept turning off the Senabrese captions to be fair, but to tell the truth, the captions weren’t even helping much because I could hardly make sense of written Senabrese!

At one time, Asturo-Leonese was the most widely spoken language in Spain. Around 1000, Castillian began to expand south out of the Cantabria region and over time, it overwhelmed Asturo-Leonese, with Leonese being hit particularly hard. Extremaduran is a Western Leonese lect that got isolated down in Extremadura by expanding Castillian, and Mirandese is a Senabrese dialect that got isolated over in Portugal 1,200 years ago and has since come under heavy Galician influence. Mirandese is no longer fully intelligible with Leonese, even with the Senabrese Leonese it grew out of. At the moment, Mirandese is best characterized as a Senabrese Leonese lect transitional to Galician.

That Castillian actually grew out of Asturo-Leonese is fascinating because it implies that Castillian is an Asturo-Leonese dialect and not the other way around. In the same way, Portuguese is actually a dialect of Galician and not the other way around because Portuguese grew out of Galician.

Leonese is apparently not completely intelligible with Asturian. Instead the intelligibility is ~85%.

Leonese, even Senabrese Leonese, is in quite bad shape, however, unlike other Leonese lects, Senabrese still has child speakers.

If you speak Spanish or Portuguese, see if you can figure out what this guy is saying.

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Filed under Galician, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Italic, Italo-Celtic, Italo-Celtic-Tocharian, Language Families, Language Samples, Leonese, Linguistics, Romance, Spanish

A Reclassification of Many Common European Languages

Many common European languages are better seen as more than one language. I have been studying this issue for years, and this is some of my preliminary data. It is not yet in a publishable form, but it will give you some idea of the concepts that I am working with.

 

Kashubian

Really two separate languages as opposed to one.

North and South Kashubian are separate languages. Speakers in the north can’t understand those in the south.

 

Cimbrian

Really three separate languages as opposed to one.

Lusernese Cimbrian, Sette Comuni Cimbrian, Tredici Communi Cimbrian (Tauch). Based on structural and intelligibility differences, the three dialects could be considered separate languages.

 

West Frisian

Really three separate languages as opposed to one.

Schiermonnikoogs (Skiermuontseagersk) is an archaic West Frisian dialect, poorly understood by the rest of West Frisian, that is spoken on the island of Schiermonnikoog. It is actually spoken more in the north of Groningen than in Friesland.

It is in serious decline since WW2 due mostly to immigration from the mainland. The newcomers arrive speaking a West Frisian dialect from Groningen, Vastewal. There are only about 100 speakers left. However, many others speak a “weak” Schiermonnikoogs. Courses in Schiermonnikoogs have been popular since the 1960’s, and there have been a number of publications in the language.

Hindeloopers is an archaic West Frisian dialect, really a separate language, that is spoken on the SW coast of Friesland in the town of Hindeloopen. It has very conservative phonetics and vocabulary, much of it from Old Frisian. Hindeloopers is slowly becoming more like Standard Frisian due to increased exposure of its speakers to Standard Frisian and immigrants moving to the area. It is hard for other Frisian speakers to understand.

 

North Frisian

Really five separate languages as opposed to one.

North Frisian is four different languages as far as % cognates is concerned. Mainland (including Halligen Frisian), Öömrang-Fering, Sölring and Halunder/Heligolandic. Also, Hallig is not very intelligible with other mainland varieties like Mooring.

 

Manx Gaelic

Really a living language as opposed to an extinct one.

There are now 2,000 people who claim to speak Manx. Some are raising their children in Manx.

 

Breton

Really probably five or six separate languages instead of one.

Vannetais is a separate language. It is not intelligible with Leonard, another main dialect. Spoken in Brittany – the entire area of the department of Morbihan (with the exception of Belle Isle and regions around the Faouët and Gourin): Valves, Pontivy, Lorient, Plouay, Guémené-sur-Scorff, Baud, Auray, Quiberon, Sarzeau and the commune of Finistère Arzano.

Further, West Vannetais cannot understand East Vannetais.

Leonard is a separate language, not intelligible with Vannetais. Spoken in Leon (Leon or Bro Leon), the northern third of the department of Finistère (Brest, Morlaix, Plouguerneau, Landerneau, Saint-Pol-de-Léon, Landivisiau, Ouessant).

Leonard is about as far from Vannetais as it is from Cornouaillais. Intelligibility between Vannetais and Cornouaillais is not known.

Cornouaillais may be a separate language due to its distance from Leonard.

Groisillon, spoken in the Groix, is reportedly hard to understand for speakers of other dialects. It may be extinct, but more likely there are a few speakers left. Breton reportedly has 77 different dialects.

The new Neo-Breton taught in the schools often can’t be understood by traditional speakers because it is full of borrowings from Cornish and Welsh.

 

Asturian

There are two languages – Eastern Asturian and Central/Western Asturian instead of one.

 

Leonese

There are two languages – Eastern Leonese/Extremaduran and Central/West Leonese instead of one. Extremaduran is intelligible with Eastern Asturian.

 

Aragonese

Navarese is not really spoken anymore or it is just a Spanish dialect. Benasquesque/Ribacorgano is a separate language in between Aragonese and Catalan. Far northern and far southern Aragonese cannot understand each other.

 

Gascon

Apparently more than one language. Aranese is apparently a separate language.

 

Languedocien

Apparently more than one language.

 

Auvergnat

Apparently more than one language.

 

Limousin

Apparently more than one language.

 

Provencal

Apparently more than one language.

 

Walloon

Walloon is four separate languages instead of one.

East Walloon – Barvaux, Huy, Liège, Hesbaye Liégois, East Liégeois, Verviers, Malmédy. South Walloon – Marche-en-Fanenne, Bastogne, Neufchâteau, Saint-Hubert, Bouillon. Central Walloon – Basse-Sambre, Nivelles, Rochefort, Dinant, Namur, Charleroi, Beaumont, Chimay, Philippeville, La Louvière. West Walloon – East Brabançon, Jodoigne, Wavre, Hesbaye Namur, Gembloux, Sombreffe, Eghezée.

 

Francoprovençal

This is more than one language. It may well be up to an incredible 24 different languages or even more.

Dauphinois, Jurassien, Lyonnais, Savoyard, Vaudois, Valdotan and Piedmont and are the major dialects, and all are probably separate languages.

Franche-Comte, spoken in Neuchâtel, Vaud North, Pontassilien, Ain, Valserine is a separate language.

Faetar is a separate language from Arpitan. It split off in 1400 and has undergone heavy influence from Standard Italian and Apulian. It has 1,400 speakers in two towns, Celle and Faeto in Apulia in southern Italy. Language use is still vigorous even though most people in the towns are unemployed or retired. A few work in the fields.

Bressan has some internal diversity. The youngest speakers are about 60 years old now, but there are still dialect associations that promote it strongly. Bressan was the main mode of communication here until the 1970’s. Bressan itself is probably a separate language.

Forézien is now almost extinct. Forezien is apparently a separate language.

Geneva, Fribourgeois, Neuchatel, Valaisan and Vaudois are the dialects of Switzerland, and all of those are probably separate languages too.

Valais has some of the strongest dialectal differentiation in the entire Arpitan region. Valais is divided into two large languagesWest Valais spoken around Lake Geneva and East Valais spoken around Sion. Intelligibility is poor between the two poles.

In Valloire, Valmeinier and Valle Arvan at the far southern end of Savoyard, between St. Jean de Maurienne and Modane, a Savoyard dialect – Southern Savoyard – is spoken that is not intelligible with the rest of Savoyard. It is also different in Valloire, Valmeinier and Valle Arvan, but intelligibility among those three varieties is not known. Probably heavy influence of Occitan in this region. Possibly three separate languages here.

In Valloire, all persons over 60 use Arpitan as a daily language. St. Michel-Modana Savoyard is a separate language.

Valloire is a separate language. It is not intelligible with the dialect spoken in Albanne near St. Jean de Maurienne. Valmeinier, Valle Arvan and St. Michael de Maurienne also appear to be separate languages. The speech of Albertville and Chambery could be called South Savoyard. Dauphinois is still widely spoken in the villages around Villard de Lans south of Grenoble.

In the Savoyard area from Mt. Blanc to Geneva to Montreaux to Evian to Abondance, there is good intelligibility among dialects. This could be called North Savoyard. As one moves to the south, it gets harder to understand. North Savoyard and South Savoyard seem to be two different languages. In the Val d’Illiez area between Montreaux and Martigny, some Arpitan dialects are spoken that are very different from everything else.

 

Romansch

There are actually five or more separate languages instead of one. Each dialect is a separate language.

Upper Engadine: Puter, Lower Engadine: Vallader, Upper Rhine: Surselva, Lower Rhine: Sutselva, in between: Surmeiran. Romansh is actually 5 different languages, at least. Intelligibility is probably on the order of 80% or so, though testing might be nice.

Val Bregaglia/Valtellina Romansch (Bergajot) is an old Romansch dialect formerly widely spoken in the Val Bregaglia and Valtellina region of Italy. It is now only spoken by the elderly and a few younger people. It is mostly a mixture of Puter Romansch and Ladin with an overlay of Western Alpine Lombard Italian. It was the lingua franca in the region 100 years ago, but has since been replaced by Western Alpine Lombard Italian. Not intelligible with the rest of Romansch or with Italian. Some intelligibility of Ladin, some of Romansch, less of Ticinese Italian.

Bergajot is spoken in the Bregaglia Valley near Chiavenna and upwards towards Switzerland. It is more Italian than Puter Romansch, but Puter Romansch and Bergajot speakers can understand each other. This was probably the natural extension of Romansch to the south, but the language was never written down, and Italian was adopted as the written language, so what developed was a cross between Romansch and Italian.

Unknown whether Bergajot is a separate language or part of Puter Romansch.

 

Ladin

Ladin is a number of separate languages instead of one. Possibly 12 or more different languages.

Western Ladin includes Fassan, Gardenese, Novi, Nones and Solandro.

Fascian Ladin or Fassan Ladin: Spoken in Val di Fassa and variants in Moena and Canazei in the Fassatal Valley of the Dolomites. There are 8,620 residents, of whom 60-75% speak Lain as a mother tongue. There are two main varieties, Canazei Fascian in the upper valley and Moena in the lower valley. Heavy Italian influence. Fassan is Dolomitic Ladin. Spoken in Trentino Province.

Brach Fascian: Spoken in the center of the valley in Soraga, Pozza di Fassa and Vigo di Fassa. Intelligibility with Moena or Canazei is unknown, but may be nearly intelligible. Possibly not intelligible with Fiemmese Ladin.

Moena Fascian: Spoken in the lower part of the Val di Fassa. Canazei Fascian has problems understanding Moena Fascian. Spoken in Moena, Mazzin, Vigo de Fassa, Pozza and Soraga. Intelligibility with Fiemmese or Brach is unknown but may be nearly intelligible.

Gherdëina Ladin: spoken in Val Gardena or Gröden Valley, South Tyrol, by 8,148 inhabitants, 80-90% of the population. This dialect is close to German. Spoken in Bolzano, extremely protected. Gherdëina is described as “completely different” from Fascian, Anpezan and Cadore. Val Badia can understand Gherdëina but Fassa cannot. Part of South Tyrolean Ladin. Intelligibility between Gherdëina and Novi Ladin is unknown but probably good.

Nones/Solandro Ladin: spoken in Val di Non (as Nones) and with variations in different parts of the valley and the adjacent lower Val di Sole (as Solandro) in Trento Province just north of Trento and just west of Bolzano.

Nones has a lot of German words in it. Two different forms – Nones and Solandro or Solander. Solandro is spoken in Val di Sole, Val di Peio and Val di Rabbi (as Rabies). The last linguistic census of 2001 found that more than 7,000 residents in Val di Non and Val di Sole spoke Ladin. It is uncertain whether Nones/Solandro is a language of its own. Some say it is part of the Trentino language. Nones/Solandro is basically a Ladin dialect transitional to Trentino East Lombard. Often referred to as Anaunico Ladin. Val Badia and Fassa cannot understand Nones.

Intelligibility between Nones and Solandro is uncertain, but they are considered to be part of one language. There are two main dialects of Solandro, one in the lower valley and one in the upper valley. The lower valley has heavy Nones influence, and the upper valley is more conservative and has Celtic influences.

Lower Valley Solandro in the lower valley is spoken by 4,000 people in the towns of Caldes, Terzolas and Male and has heavy Nones influence.

La Montàgna Solandro is very conservative and very different. It is spoken in Termenago and Castello in Pellizzano and in Ortisé and Menàs in Mezzana. It is very conservative and has almost nothing to do with the valley dialects such as Pellizzano and Ossana.

Pellizzano-Ossana Solandro is spoken in the towns of those names and the two are very similar. This dialect resembles Eastern Lombard. Many miners came from Lecce and Como in the 14th Century to work in mines here, and this accounts for the Lombard influences on the lect. It is spoken by 500 people in Pellizzano and 800 in Ossana. May be intelligible with Vermiglio Solandro.

Rabies Solandro spoken in the Val di Rabbi is one of the most conservative forms of Ladin in existence.

Nones has 30,000 speakers, but there is some debate over whether it it Ladin or not. Solandro is also under question about whether or not it is Ladin. It has 15,000 speakers.

Central Ladin: (transitional to Alpine Venetian).

Val Badia-Marebbe Ladin (Maréo/Badiot Enneberg/Abtei): Gadertal and Val Marebbe (formerly in Val Luson and lower Val Badia), South Tyrol, by 9,229 inhabitants, 95% as their mother tongue. Mareo/Enneberg/Marebbe are three names for the Mareo version which is spoken in the lower valley. Badiot is spoken in the upper valley.

The language varies from town to town. Less Germanized than Gherdëina, probably the closest to a pure Ladin. Spoken in Bolzano, extremely protected. Maréo/Badiot is said to be “completely different” from Fascian, Anpezan and Cadore. Part of South Tyrolean Ladin. Intelligible with Gherdëina. Not intelligible with Fodom.

Fodom, Alta Val Cordevole, Buchenstein or Livinallese Ladin: spoken in the municipalities of Livinallongo Col di Lana, Colle Saint Lucia and Arabba in the villages of Cherz, Alfauro and Varda in Belluno by about 80 to 90% of the population as their mother tongue. Fodom has two very different dialects, one in the main valley, Livinallongo Col di Lana Ladin, resembling Val Badia and the other, Colle Saint Lucia Ladin, looking more Italian. Heavy Venetian and Italian influence. Considered part of Dolomitic Ladin. Not intelligible with Val Badia. Similar to Agordo Ladin Venetian.

Intelligibility with Anpezan is not known. Intelligibility with Rocchesano Ladin is unknown but may be good.

Eastern Ladin (transitional to Alpine Venetian-Friulian)
Near Belluno in Belluno Province.

In practice, Eastern Ladin except Anpezan is regarded as a separate language from Dolomitic Ladin.

Eastern Ladin – differences.

Anpezan, Ampezzo or Ampezzano Ladin: Cortina d’Ampezzo, Belluno. Similar to Cadore Ladin. Spoken in the Ampezzo Valley of the Dolomites. Heavy Venetian influence, but has many archaic qualities since it was under Austrian rule for 400 years – longer than the surrounding areas. Halfway between Ladin and Venetian. Anpezan is said to be “completely different” from Fascian, Maréo/Badiot, Gherdëina and Cadore.

Considered part of Dolomitic Ladin. Intelligibility with Fodom is not known, but Anpezan is not intelligible with Val Badia. Anpezan can understand Central Cadore, especially Oltrechiusano Ladin. Oltrechiusano and Anpezan form a sort of a grouping.

Central Cadore Ladin (Cadorino): Spoken in Valle di Cadore, Pieve di Cadore, Perarolo di Cadore, Calalzo di Cadore and Domegge di Cadore, except Comelico and Sappada, with Venetian influences. It is spoken in the Cadore all the way down to Perarolo di Cadore. Below Perarolo, it turns into Venetian. It is not uniform and differs greatly across the area. Pozzale Ladin is very archaic, with Oltrechiusano traits. Calalzo Ladin and Domegge Ladin are also archaic.

Pieve di Cadore Ladin, Tai di Cadore Ladin, Sottocastello Ladin, Valle di Cadore Ladin, Calalzo di Cadore Ladin, Domegge di Cadore Ladin, Ospitale di Cadore Ladin and Perarolo di Cadore Ladin have few speakers left. In these places, a variety of Cadore Venetian is now spoken. Sometimes included in Ladin and sometimes not.

Eastern Cadore Ladin (Cadorino): Spoken in Lozzo di Cadore, Vigo di Cadore, Lorenzago di Cadore and Auronzo di Cadore. More conservative than Central Cadore. The Laggio Ladin of Vigo and Auronzo is very archaic, similar to Comelico. This is apparently a separate language from Central Cadore.

Aurunzo di Cadore speaks Aurunzo Ladin, an Eastern Cadore dialect. Also spoken in Rizzio. The dialect of Aurunzo is very archaic, similar to Comelico. Aurunzo is very similar to Oltrepiavano, but it is very different from Comelicese. Oltrepiavano/Aurunzo di Cadore may be a single language.

Comelico, Comelicese or Comeliano Ladin: widespread in Comelico, Belluno. It is the most conservative of the Eastern Cadore dialects, even more conservative than Anpezan. Similar to Cadore but could also be confused with Friulian. The Comelico dialect could be divided into two sections: 1) Eastern Comelico: towns of Costalissoio, Campolongo, San Pietro di Cadore, Mare, Presenzio and Cosalta di Cadore; 2) Western Comelico: towns of Candide, Casamazzagno, Dosoledo, San Nicolò, Cosat, Parola, Danta, Santo Stefano, Campitello and Casta.

 

Friulian

Friulian may be up to five separate languages instead of one.

The tiny towns of Erto e Casso (dialects Ertano and Cassanese), Claut and Cimolais in Friuli Venezeia Giulia speak a Rhaeto-Romansch dialect that is transitional between Friulian and Ladin. Later it came under Venetian influence. Ladin was formerly spoken in a nearby area, which explains the Ladin influence.

The people say they speak Friulian, but the towns voted not to be included in the Friulian speaking region. The variety is not intelligible with the rest of Friulian. It is probably not intelligible with Ladin either. The name is Vajontino. The nearby village of Casso speaks some sort of Venetian, possibly Ladino Venetian. It is not really known what this lect is, whether it it is Friulian or Ladin at its base. It is probably a Friulian lect that came under serious Cadore Ladin influence.

In the town of Forni di Sotto on the border between the Comelico Ladin and the Friulian region, a dialect called Fornese is spoken that is often considered to be a part of Ladin. However, it is a cross between Carnico or Carnian Friulian and Cadore Ladin, especially Comelicano. It is said to be so different from the rest of Carnico that it is not even a part of that language. At the same time, it does not seem to be Ladin either.

Probably similar to Vajontino, but intelligibility between this lect and Vajontino is not known. Probably not intelligible with Cadore Ladin. This is basically a Friulian dialect that has undergone profound Cadore Ladin influence.

The Central Friulian of Gemona di Friuli in the north of the province has difficult intelligibility with Northern Friulian dialects spoken in Moggia Ugidense only 10-15 miles away.

In addition, Low Friulian has a hard time understanding Carnian Friulian in the far north.

 

Karaim

Karaim is two separate languages instead of one, Halich Karaim and Trakai Karaim.

 

Crimean Tatar

Crimean Tatar is two separate languages instead of one, Crimean Tatar and Turkish Crimean Tatar.

 

Gaguaz

Maritime Gaguaz and Balkan Gaguaz are two separate languages instead of one – see Ethnologue.

 

Basque

Basque is actually four separate languages instead of one- Standard Basque, Souletin, Vizcayan, and Gipuzcoan.

There is a unified Basque that everyone speaks so that they can understand each other.

However, there are cases where Guipuzcoan cannot understand Viscayan.

Souletin and Biscayan (France) do not understand each other.

Zuberoan or Souletin is spoken in France. It is not intelligible with the other Basque dialects. Souletin has influence from Béarnese, a dialect of Gascon (Occitan).

 

Yiddish

Yiddish is two separate languages instead of one, Western Yiddish and Eastern Yiddish.

 

Ladino

I am not sure Ladino is a separate language as it appears to be intelligible with Spanish.

 

Channel Islands French

This is actually four languages instead of one, Jerriais, Serquiais, North Guernesiais and South Guernesiais.

Jèrriais or Jersey French is a French language spoken on Jersey Island. Jèrriais has some intelligibility of Guernésiais. There are 2,874 speakers left. 15% of the population understands the language. The language is being revived. It is recognized as a regional language by the British government. Monolingual children were showing up at school as late as 30 years ago. There is a heavy English and some Breton influence.

Serquiais is a separate language spoken on Sark, descended from the Jèrriais of the colonists of the 1500’s. The remaining speakers are mostly elderly. It has suffered in recent years due to the influx of tax exiles. It is not inherently intelligible to Jèrriais or Guernésiais, nor with the Norman spoken on coast. There are only 20 speakers left. Serquiais is the most different of all compared to Standard French.

Guernésiais is spoken in Guernsey. It is recognized by the British government as a regional language. Guernésiais and Jèrriais have some intelligibility. There are 1,327 speakers. Speakers are mostly over age 64. 14% of the population have some understanding of the language. No intelligibility of Serquiais.

There are two Guernésiais languages, North Guernésiais, spoken in the lower parishes, and South Guernésiais, spoken in the upper parishes. There is poor intelligibility between them. Only one variety is being revived. Most Guernsey residents use some Guernésiais words in everyday speech without even knowing it. Speakers were evacuated to the mainland during WW2, and they quit speaking the language.

 

Arbëreshë Albanian

Arbëreshë Albanian is actually five separate languages instead of one, Sicilian Albanian, Calabrian Albanian, Central Mountain Albanian, Campo Marino Albanian and Molise Albanian.

Arbëreshë Albanian spoken in Italy is actually five separate languages, Sicilian Albanian, Calabrian Albanian, Central Mountain Albanian, Campo Marino Albanian and Molise Albanian. From a migration in the 1400’s-1500’s. Not intelligible with Standard Albanian. 80,000 speakers. Taught in some schools.

 

Arvanitika Albanian

Arvanitika Albanian is actually three separate languages instead of one.

Arvanitika Albanian is spoken in Greece. Thracean Arvanitika, Northwestern Arvanitika, South Central Arvanitika, dialects of Arvanitika, are actually separate languages. 50,000 speakers.

 

Greek

Greek is made up of at least seven different languages instead of one – Standard Greek, Cappodachian Greek, Cypriot Greek, Cretan Greek, Pontic Greek, Olympos Greek and Mariupolitan Greek.

Cappadocian Greek is not extinct at all as was previously thought. Thought extinct in the 1960’s, it was rediscovered in 2005.

Cypriot Greek and Cretan have marginal intelligibility with Standard Greek. Cretan has ~80% intelligibility and Cypriot ~60% with Standard Greek. Mariupolitan Greek is probably a dialect of Pontic Greek. See The Story of Pu: The Grammaticalization in Space and Time of a Modern Greek Complementizer by Nick Nicholas.

The dialect of Olympos, a village on the Greek island of Karpathos, is not even intelligible to other residents of the island.

Mariupolitan Greek is spoken in Mariupol in the Ukraine. This is a group of Greeks who moved into the area 200 years ago. Their Greek lect is still spoken to this day. It has a great deal of Turkic in it from Crimean Tatar so it is hard for Greeks to understand.

 

Turkmen

Turkmen and Trukhmen are two separate languages.

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