The LINGUIST List is dedicated to providing information on language and language analysis, and to providing the discipline of linguistics with the infrastructure necessary to function in the digital world. LINGUIST is a free resource, run by linguistics students and faculty, and supported primarily by your donations. Please support LINGUIST List during the 2016 Fund Drive.
Ask-A-Linguist Message Details
|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:||You mean, people that originally spoke the same language but were separated, e.g. through one group emigrating? I can't think of concrete examples that would resolve the question definitively, and "understand each other" is anyway a more/less rather than yes/no issue, but as a linguist my gut feeling is that, after "a few hundred years" – say, 300 years or so – with no contact at all, the answer would be "it's possible, but the odds are that there would not be mutual understanding when members of the two groups first encountered one another". Of course, if they wanted to understand each other, it would not take some of them long to gather what the other side were saying, but at the beginning it would probably be effectively a foreign language. Geoffrey Sampson|
|Reply From:||Geoffrey Richard Sampson click here to access email|