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Old Aug 23rd 2012, 09:44 AM
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Default Closest written languages to English

What do you believe to be the closest language to English (apart from English, obviously).

First of all - languages that are official state languages.

English is mostly Germanic (with a lot of Latin), so Dutch, Norwegian and German are good options, but I'd say Dutch is probably the major European language (or maybe Africaans or Flemish, which are both very very very similar to Dutch).

Then you've got West Frisian, which is spoken by half a million people in the north of the Netherlands (Friesland). This is often regarded as the closest language to English.

But of course, you have various kinds of English in different continents, for example Indian, Singaporean and so on, which may or may not be considered foreign languages to English.

I don't think there is one clear cut answer to this question, but perhaps other people could come up with suggestions...
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Old Aug 23rd 2012, 08:00 PM
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Default Re: Closest written languages to English

I would expect German, but I'm no expert on languages. I'd expect Greendruid and Dominick to weigh in with more weighty opinions on the topic.
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Old Aug 23rd 2012, 09:50 PM
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Default Re: Closest written languages to English

English can take on so many forms for precisely the reason you noted, it's geographic spread. Newfoundland English demonstrates the impact of Erse on its vocabulary, forms of the direct and indirect object, and even declination of nouns.

Likewise, Jamaican English has been mixed with the French and Carib languages and derives a very distinct vocabulary and verb conjugation that is somewhat repeated in other Caribbean nations but not elsewhere in the world.

I guess you could almost divide the similarities into categories such as sentence structure and syntax, vocabulary, pronunciation, and phonology. I think we would find different answers for each of these.

All of the suggestions you made are good candidates for overall similarity and I don't think I would add anything. Are we also including pidgins and dialects or just full languages?
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Old Aug 23rd 2012, 10:44 PM
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Default Re: Closest written languages to English

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Originally Posted by Greendruid View Post
English can take on so many forms for precisely the reason you noted, it's geographic spread. Newfoundland English demonstrates the impact of Erse on its vocabulary, forms of the direct and indirect object, and even declination of nouns.

Likewise, Jamaican English has been mixed with the French and Carib languages and derives a very distinct vocabulary and verb conjugation that is somewhat repeated in other Caribbean nations but not elsewhere in the world.

I guess you could almost divide the similarities into categories such as sentence structure and syntax, vocabulary, pronunciation, and phonology. I think we would find different answers for each of these.

All of the suggestions you made are good candidates for overall similarity and I don't think I would add anything. Are we also including pidgins and dialects or just full languages?
If one were to regard every single dialect as a language, I don't think there would be much point in contributing to this thread.

My position is that if you personally regard it as a language, you can include it as a candidate for this thread.

The title states 'written' but perhaps it need not be a criterion that a variation of English has a written form.

Also, when it comes to variations of English, it seems a little pointless to try to find out which is closest to standard English - one would be simply trying to establish which of the variations had the least right to be called a language in its own right.

Perhaps we could make it into two questions; which is the closest foreign language to English (ie. Dutch) and which is the most distant derivation of English (ie. Singaporean English) from standard English.
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Old Aug 24th 2012, 12:18 AM
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Default Re: Closest written languages to English

In that last sentence, 'ie' should be 'eg'.
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Old Aug 24th 2012, 05:20 AM
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Default Re: Closest written languages to English

Scottish

But according to Wiki it's Frisian:



I'm not very familiar with Frisian. When I hear it on e.g. Dutch television, it's completely incomprehensible and sounds a lot more Scandinavian than English.
But it's quite readable for me. The Frisian entry on Frisian in Wikipedia (http://fy.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frysk) reads like a cross between Dutch and my local West-Flemish dialect with some Scandinavian (Danish) bits. I don't see much English in it, at least no modern English.

I don't really see a close language to English the way that Dutch-German or French-Latin-Italian-Romanian are close. English is a bit like a 'Best of'-language with Latin, Germanic and Nordic components. Maybe that's why it's so easy to learn at the basic level. It's always been much more difficult for me to learn German despite or maybe because of the similarities with Dutch.
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Old Aug 24th 2012, 05:41 AM
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Default Re: Closest written languages to English

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Originally Posted by Dominick View Post
Scottish

But according to Wiki it's Frisian:



I'm not very familiar with Frisian. When I hear it on e.g. Dutch television, it's completely incomprehensible and sounds a lot more Scandinavian than English.
But it's quite readable for me. The Frisian entry on Frisian in Wikipedia (http://fy.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frysk) reads like a cross between Dutch and my local West-Flemish dialect with some Scandinavian (Danish) bits. I don't see much English in it, at least no modern English.

I don't really see a close language to English the way that Dutch-German or French-Latin-Italian-Romanian are close. English is a bit like a 'Best of'-language with Latin, Germanic and Nordic components. Maybe that's why it's so easy to learn at the basic level. It's always been much more difficult for me to learn German despite or maybe because of the similarities with Dutch.
I agree, English doesn't seem to have a very close neighbour, like Dutch and German have each other, Norwegian, Swedish and Danish, and the Latin languages.

Thank you for your description of Frisian - it was enlighening to hear a Flemish speaker's take.

There was actually a written language called Scots, similar to modern Scottish English, which apparently began in about 600 A.D. when Angles came to Scotland. It functioned as a written language, until the British union in 1707. Robert Burns used Scots in much of his poetry.
http://www.scotslanguage.com/books/view/2/
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Old Aug 24th 2012, 09:08 AM
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Default Re: Closest written languages to English

PS: When I said Scots was similar to modern Scottish English, I meant it was related to modern Scottish English - the earliest form would of course not be comprehensible to modern Scots. I wanted to highlight that I was NOT taling about Scottish Gaelic, which would have been the first thing to come to some people's minds when talking of a Scots language.
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Old Aug 12th 2016, 03:55 AM
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Default Re: Closest written languages to English

Here are a few suggestions, if they are written;

"Tok Pisin; There are many English-based creoles in the world, and many of them exist informally and with multiple variations ranging from quite different from standard English to very close to it. In some places, the creoles are the dominant language and have gained semi-official or official status and, with it, some standardisation. Tok Pisin is one such: it is an official language of Papua New Guinea and has about 120,000 native speakers and some 4 million second-language speakers. Tok Pisin began as a pidgin based on English with influence from German, Portuguese, and several Austronesian languages, but it gained native speakers who more fully elaborated it and made it a creole. Due to the cross-influence of several languages, it uses fewer vowels and consonants and it has a less inflecting grammar than English, preferring strings of words rather than prefixes and suffixes. It is not really mutually intelligible with English, as this translation of the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the one about all humans being born free and equal in dignity and rights – shows: “Yumi olgeta mama karim umi long stap fri na wankain long wei yumi lukim i gutpela na strepela tru.”

Pitkern; After the mutiny on the Bounty in 1789, several of the mutineers and some Tahitians settled on Pitcairn Island. The mutineers were from various places, including parts of Scotland, England and the Caribbean, but most were not well educated, and they had little language understanding in common with the Tahitians. The isolation of Pitcairn in the South Pacific made this mixture of people a natural breeding ground for a distinct language, Pitkern, recognisably descended from English but clearly not English: “About yee gwen?” means “Where are you going?” and “I se gwen a nahweh” means “I’m going swimming.” Fewer than 500 people now speak Pitkern, however, so in our much more mobile and less isolating world, its future is not assured.

Gullah; Gullah, also called Geechee, is a language of the United States; it is the native language of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and a heritage language of Michelle Obama. It is also called Geechee. It is a creole based on English and West African languages, and it is spoken by some 250,000 people – mostly descendants of slaves – along the south-east coast of the US. It arose during the 1700s and 1800s, and it is proudly maintained as a linguistic heritage today. It is to some extent – but not completely – mutually intelligible with English. If you have ever sung Kumbayah, you have used at least that one word of Gullah.

Sranan; Sranan (also called Sranan Tongo), spoken by some 400,000 people in Suriname (and first language for about 130,000 of them), has an English base with vocabulary from Portuguese, Dutch, and West African languages. It emerged in the 1900s but was discouraged in the Dutch-run education system. After Suriname gained independence, Sranan’s status increased considerably. It is not truly mutually intelligible with English, as this example from omniglot.com shows: “A ben de so taki wan dei mi mama ben bori okro.”

Singlish; The government of Singapore has not always wanted people to think that Singlish is anything other than ‘bad English’. But this popular language is different from English in important ways. Singlish arose in the past century from the mixing of many different language groups within an English school system. Much of its grammar is borrowed from dialects of Chinese, and while many of the words come (sometimes changed) from English, it also has Malay and Tamil influences. It is now the native tongue of many Singaporeans, and much of the country’s daily life is conducted in it. Since it is not official or standardised, it has multiple varieties on a continuum from quite similar to standard English all the way to really not mutually intelligible with English. To take a couple of examples from worksingapore.com: “Wah lau, the movie damn sian” (“I didn't really like the movie. I found it rather uninteresting”) and “Kena saman? Die, lah” (“I’m being fined? Oh dear”).
"

From the BBC; click the link below.

http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/201...-new-languages
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Old Aug 15th 2016, 07:10 PM
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Default Re: Closest written languages to English

Quote:
Originally Posted by NickKIELCEPoland View Post
Gullah; Gullah, also called Geechee, is a language of the United States; it is the native language of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and a heritage language of Michelle Obama. It is also called Geechee. It is a creole based on English and West African languages, and it is spoken by some 250,000 people – mostly descendants of slaves – along the south-east coast of the US. It arose during the 1700s and 1800s, and it is proudly maintained as a linguistic heritage today. It is to some extent – but not completely – mutually intelligible with English. If you have ever sung Kumbayah, you have used at least that one word of Gullah.
There used to be a dozen or so dialects/languages of the US Eastern coast, mostly created on the many isolated islands found there. Most of them are long gone now and I'd expect this Gullah-thing to disappear soon enough like the others - for exactly the same reasons.

And no, I've never sung "Kumbayah" whatever the fuck that is.

Does anyone know what "Kumbayah" is?

Quote:
Originally Posted by NickKIELCEPoland View Post
Singlish; The government of Singapore has not always wanted people to think that Singlish is anything other than ‘bad English’. But this popular language is different from English in important ways. Singlish arose in the past century from the mixing of many different language groups within an English school system. Much of its grammar is borrowed from dialects of Chinese, and while many of the words come (sometimes changed) from English, it also has Malay and Tamil influences. It is now the native tongue of many Singaporeans, and much of the country’s daily life is conducted in it. Since it is not official or standardised, it has multiple varieties on a continuum from quite similar to standard English all the way to really not mutually intelligible with English. To take a couple of examples from worksingapore.com: “Wah lau, the movie damn sian” (“I didn't really like the movie. I found it rather uninteresting”) and “Kena saman? Die, lah” (“I’m being fined? Oh dear”).[/i]"
Just another bastardized form of English if you ask me. I know dozens of people who presume to speak this 'language'. It seems a whole lot like Scottish English or American black English. Basically an English language with English grammar and just changing a few particular nouns/verbs. I have a hard time considering such code-languages as real languages since they seem designed to be exclusive rather than be inclusive - since it is the purpose of language to communicate. Using a language specifically to exclude people seems anti-communicative and therefore, anti-language to me.
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