Mutually Intelligible Languages

 Mutually Intelligible Languages

Mutually Intelligible Languages

Polyglot people always gain a competitive advantage among the people who speak only one language. Learning a new language is a great skill. It helps you communicate with multiple people from all around the globe. Some languages are easy to learn and some are difficult to learn. Do you want to know why? Because some languages are mutually intelligible while others are not. These languages are easy to comprehend because they are like each other. The advantage of these languages is that if you know one language then you can easily learn another language. For instance, the Italian language is mutually intelligible with French. Therefore, if anybody knows the Italian language, he can easily learn the French language. Moreover, learning French as a second language means you do not need French translation services.

Characteristics of Mutually Intelligible Languages

These languages are measured by the difference or distance between dialects and languages. How can you measure this distance and difference? No doubt their differences vary but their common vocabulary plays an important part in their calculations.

Verbal Similarity

The verbal similarity is used to measure the linguistic distance that states how similar the languages are. They are used to check whether the vocabulary of both languages is overlapping or not. If they are overlapping then it means they are similar languages.

Mutual Intelligibility

It states that a speaker of one language can understand the speaker of another language. This can be in written form or spoken form. Mutual intelligibility degree varies upon partial to full similarities. In some of the languages, you will come across imbalanced mutual intelligibility which is also known as asymmetric intelligibility. This situation is when people speaking one language can understand a related language at a greater level than the people speaking a related language can understand the other language. This situation occurs because of exposure. If a person is exposed to other related languages, then he can easily learn the other language.


People speak different dialects of the same languages because of cultural and regional differences. They are part of the main language from where they originated. The line between the language and dialect is very vague. For example, Italian and French are mutually intelligible however they are technically separated languages. On the contrary Chinese language consists of distant dialects that are not mutually intelligible. Therefore, to understand these dialects many companies take the assistance of professional translation services.

Which are Mutually Intelligible Languages?

Are you inquisitive to know how many languages are mutually intelligible? Let’s find out some of them


The Arabic language is spoken with notable regional variations. The rural difference in language is less intelligible whereas most of the dialects are mutually intelligible. People living in urban areas speak different dialects according to their areas. Moreover, they speak a formal form of Arabic. When talking about countries, you will be surprised to know that Arabic spoken in Saudi Arabia is different from Arabic spoken in Egypt. Therefore to understand these variations, many people take the assistance of Arabic translation services. One important thing to note is that Arabic spoken in Tunisian is intelligible with Maltese because of its idiomatic expressions.


Do you know that those three dialects of English spoken in Scotland are mutually intelligible? Despite this fact, Scottish people can understand English spoken around the world because they are exposed to the media. Scots write like English although there are some spelling variations. Even some people think that Scots is a dialect of English instead of a separate language. 


French is a language that is mutually intelligible with many other languages like Italian, Spanish, Romanian and Portuguese. According to the report by Ethnology, French is 89% verbally similar to Italian, 75% similar with Spanish, Romanian and Portuguese. Moreover, it is similar to a dialect Sardinian which is spoken on the island of Sardinia. If you know any of these languages then you can learn the French language easily. Otherwise, you can go for French translation services.


You will be surprised to know that despite different alphabets, the German language is mutually intelligible with Dutch and Yiddish. They seem similar when they are spoken. Yiddish people can easily understand German because it has taken many loan words from Slavic languages and Hebrew. On the contrary, German people can’t understand the Yiddish language easily. In the case of writing German is also similar to Dutch. Dutch people can understand German well because it is taught in their schools.


Languages like Romanian, Latin, Spanish, Catalan, and French are partially intelligible with the Italian language. According to Ethnology, Italian is 89% similar to Catalan which is spoken in Southern Spain, 82% with Spanish, 77% with Romanian, and 85% with Sardinia.

Wrapping Up

Mutually intelligible or less intelligible is like more difference or less difference between the languages. The layman cannot understand these lexical differences. Therefore, to communicate properly without any ambiguity you should hire a translation company that can provide professional translation services. By taking these services you will learn the slight differences between the languages. Do investigate these languages and make your language learning process easier.

Halen Terry

Halen Terry is the author behind many translation,localization, technology, Technical, economics, and information-based articles. He is a translation, localization, and technical writer.

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