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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Subject: Effect of seperation of people group on a common spoken languge
Question: I wanted to know if it would, at all, fit into a possible scenario, that two
groups of people could be separated completely for a few hundred
years and still understand each other. I'm not looking for a definite yes
or no, but I would like to know if it is plausible if they spent a much
longer time together before separation.

Reply: For length of time, I would say "it depends". Obviously, the longer time the group is
apart the more they will drift away from each other. If the two groups are in very
different environments or come into contact with different cultures, then the
differences will be further exaggerated.

I'm not sure what you mean by "time together". If you mean neighboring dialects, then
we already know there is some linguistic distance built in.

If you mean two groups from the same dialect/language, then I don't believe their
social history matters. That is, I would expect similar results whether the split
happened in a group of Italian speakers living in the same village for thousands of
years or a group of immigrants in New York who adopted a language like English only
a few generations ago and now speak with a class "New York" accent.

Reply From: Elizabeth J Pyatt      click here to access email
Date: 03-Oct-2012
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Effect of seperation of people group on a common spoken languge    Anthea Fraser Gupta     (04-Oct-2012)
  2. Re: Effect of seperation of people group on a common spoken languge    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (15-Oct-2012)

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