Who understands whom?There are about 7 billion people in the world. They all have a language. Unfortunately, it's not always the same. So in order to speak with other nations, we must learn languages. That is often very arduous. But there are languages that are very similar. Their speakers understand one another, without mastering the other language. This phenomenon is called mutual intelligibility. Whereby two variants are distinguished. The first variant is oral mutual intelligibility. Here, the speakers understand each other when they talk. They do not understand the written form of the other language, however. This is because the languages have different written forms.
Examples of this are the languages Hindi and Urdu. Written mutual intelligibility is the second variant. In this case, the other language is understood in its written form. But the speakers do not understand each other when they speak to each other. The reason for this is that they have very different pronunciation. German and Dutch are examples of this. The most closely related languages contain both variants. Meaning they are mutually intelligible both orally and in written form. Russian and Ukrainian or Thai and Laotian are examples. But there is also an asymmetrical form of mutual intelligibility. That is the case when speakers have different levels of understanding each other. Portuguese understand Spanish better than the Spanish understand Portuguese. Austrians also understand Germans better than the other way around. In these examples, pronunciation or dialect is a hindrance. He who really wants to have good conversations must learn something new…