Do you think Chinese is a macro language?

Discussion in '中文+方言 (Chinese)' started by Florianus, Nov 25, 2012.

  1. Florianus New Member

    China, Hoochewese and Mandarin
    Here, we are talking about Han Chinese languages not other ethnic Chinese. If so, that would be hundreds of Chinese languages there.

    Some people believe Chinese is a macro-language because it has ten totally different branches, for instance: Hokkien or Min Chinese (閩語, including Hoochewese and Taiwanese), Cantonese (粵語), Wu Chinese (吳語, including Shanghainese), Jin Chinese (晉語), Gan Chinese (贛語), Hakka Chinese (客家話), Xiang Chinese (湘語), Hui Chinese (徽語), Pin Chinese(平語), and finally Mandarin or Guan Chinese (官話). A Chinese speaker in a region can not understand another Chinese speaker from another region, neither in their own written Chinese form except classical written form.

    However, some people believe they are dialects within a language because of socio-political issue, such as: Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish can understand each other by high percentage of their sentences but differ them as different Germanic language. Therefore, these people categorize all of ten Chinese languages as one language regardless of UN (United Nations) acknowledges those Chinese as different Chinese languages.

    Hence, what is your opinion of view? Do you think they are languages because they are different than each other in verbal conversation and their own form of written Chinese characters? Or do you think they are dialects of one language because they are the language of same ethnic?
  2. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    E, the statement about the written form is not quite true.
    Historically, Chinese written system had a wide influence that even neighbour countries took its form. Most minor ethinics didn't has their own written systems as well, so they took the Han's government's way. Actually, only a few bigger groups has had their own written forms such as Mongolian, Manchu etc.
    But for most examples you gave: 1. they never had their own comprehensive writting system; 2. they wrote Han Chinese characters and follow its grammar in ancient time; 3. today, they only write modern standard Chinese that everyone in China can understand. The classical form is rarely used and hard for anyone now.

    Simply speaking, written Chinese is pretty standardized and popularized and is used and understood by all (not even among the same ethnic, if you seperate Han from the others). The "dialects", only mess with the pronunciations (with few vocabulary and grammar). That's the foundation on what people claim its one language.

    Yeah, the difference among some others languages may be smaller than the difference of "dialects" in Chinese...But hey, it's one country...Political definition could be more important than linguistic definition sometimes.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2012
  3. Florianus New Member

    China, Hoochewese and Mandarin
    Thank you for answering my question, SuperXW,

    Lots of ethnics other than Han Chinese have their own written system nowadays because government helps to invent the written system for perserving their cultures. However, few of them try to learn the written system for their cultures except linguistics.

    I agree with you for modern "standard" Chinese, which is created recently ("recently" means hundreds of years ). But, it is true that different Chinese speakers in a region has a different usage of Chinese characters than those in another region, such as: 汝今旦都做了什乇? in Hokkien or Min Chinese in compared to 你今天都做了什麼? in modern "standard" Chinese. In linguistics, "standard" does not exists, but "official" that government desires to put into people's mind. On other hand, you can not say 汝今旦都做了什乇? is a bad use of Chinese characters in compared to 你今天都做了什麼?.

    Although it is one country, it does not mean that it should only be one language, right? Other ethnics than Han Chinese also speak a variety of languages that are more similar to Chinese than western languages.

    Put it on the another way, do you prefer to say "Chinese is a macro-language with several micro-languages." or "Chinese is single language with several dialects." Both of them have similar meaning with a little distinctive difference. Former does not hurt politics because all of the names suffix with "Chinese" and it also is more close to linguistic definition.
  4. Florianus New Member

    China, Hoochewese and Mandarin
    Sorry for confusion, guys. Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish are categorized as part of Latin family, not Germanic family.
  5. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    Personally I agree with you on "Chinese is a macro-language". Well, about how much the government should push Putonghua and stuff, and how should people perserve minority languages and cultures, or how much, those remains political and sociocultural issues.
  6. Jun zhi

    Jun zhi New Member

    Mandarin Chinese
    Since the Qin Dynasty, Chinese writting system has been unified under the edict of Emperor Shi of Qin Dynasty.("书同文")
    Of course, different regions have there different accents influenced by various factors; thus there is a famous word in China "入乡随俗".
    However, though we said our langurage in different accents, we do understand what the others want to express, for we use the same Chinese characters.
    We use Mandarin in public for communicating with people who come from different places and cannot understand our accent, while we use dialects at home or in our community for chatting with each other more casually.
    That is the way how we preserve our dialects.
  7. hkenneth Member

    Minneapolis, USA
    Chinese - Mandarin & Shanghainese
    Vocabularies are used very differently in different "dialects". I will consider Suzhouhua and Shanghainese as two dialects of Wu-Chinese based on they share the same vocabulary set, but I don't quite agree that Wu-Chinese and Mandarin are dialects for each other. They are different languages, though closely related. There are also many very distinctive grammar discrepancy between them (though ignored by most people). For example, in Wu-Chinese, there is no 的 instead measurement words are used for link adjective and noun 我的自行车找不到了 vs. 吾部脚踏车寻弗着了. Although most people whose native language isn't Mandarin now use the standard writing system, there are actually 正字 for those "dialects" that look quite antique or sometimes exotic compared to Mandarin. And the reason why the daily vocabulary are so different is because these "dialects" evolved distinctively from the ancient Chinese, the same way how new languages form themselves.
  8. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Bắc Kinh
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    I agree with you, if you consider "dialect" for its purely linguistic meaning.
    But even in the West the word "dialect" can have many different meanings. See here.

    For example, the Chinese usage of 方言 is very close to the Italian usage of "dialetto". In Italy, Italian is considered the official language, the one used for formal communication, in writing, for discussing intellectual topics. Then there are a lot of languages in Italy, such as Piedmontese, Lumbard, Venetian, Emiliano, Romagnolo, Neapulitan, Sicilian and so on, that are not intelligible with Italian, but are still called "dialects", meaning that they are of limited usage, they are used in informal speech only, while in formal situation only Italian is used.
    For example, in Naples nobody talks about chemistry or engeneering in Neapulitan.
    Then for political reasons, Sardinian and Friulan are not considered dialects, but languages on their own.

    And linguistically, I don't even consider Wu a language, but it should be further divided in at least Northern Wu and Southern Wu. My native tongue is Southern Wu, but it's not intelligible with Shanghainese and Suzhounese. Your sentence would be: 吾部踏脚车寻弗着爻罢.
    But it's pronounced completely different. You can see the word-reversing in 踏脚车 (instead of 脚踏车), and the Classical-Chinese-style grammar such 爻罢.
  9. OneStroke Senior Member

    Hong Kong, China
    Chinese - Cantonese (HK)
    I think you should check out Victor Mair's posts in Language Log. They provide a lot of insight into this question. :)

    In my opinion, since 'dialect' doesn't have a universally accepted meaning, using neologisms (like 'topolect', a word coined by Mair which has gained quite a bit of acceptance) is much more accurate than arguing over 'language' and 'dialect', which I think is just semantics.

    By the way, 我的自行车找不到了 is 我架單車揾唔到啦 in Cantonese. 架 is the classifier here. (Yes, we have our own name for 'bike'.)
  10. hkenneth Member

    Minneapolis, USA
    Chinese - Mandarin & Shanghainese
    Does Taizhou dialect belong to S Wu? If so, I can recognize 75% of it. I agree though, S Wu and N Wu are quite different, in terms of pronunciation. Or maybe S Wu is more close to the middle Wu, while N Wu is influenced by Northern dialects (aka Guan Hua). But even in N Wu, there are quite a few ancient vocabularies that can be traced to Yue language, such as 念头 (addiction) 殟塞 (upsetting)
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2012
  11. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Bắc Kinh
    Wu Chinese & Italian
    I'm not sure. I've found this and this on Baidu Tieba.
    My dialects are the famous impossible-to-understand 温州话 :D, and the even more difficult 青田话。
  12. hkenneth Member

    Minneapolis, USA
    Chinese - Mandarin & Shanghainese
    Hmmm, sounds like a hybrid of S and N Wu. I never heard Wenzhou dialect but I guess I probably won't understand it. Hearing Taizhou dialect is quite enjoyable for me, though my favorite would be Suzhou dialect, splendid.
  13. AquisM Senior Member

    Hong Kong
    I think that Chinese is definitely a macrolanguage, to the extent that the 'dialects' can almost be considered different languages altogether. Differing orthography alone does not constitute different languages, so neither does identical orthography give basis to calling them one single language. We cannot ignore the fact that many of the 'dialects' originally did not have written forms, and so adapted Standard Written Chinese to represent the spoken vernacular. Pronunciation-wise, pronouncing the 'same' word in Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien... is just as different as doing the same in Spanish, Italian, French... In fact, Chinese is more diverse as there are different tones, consonants, vowels amongst the different 'dialects', differences far greater than those of the Romance languages. As for vocabulary, how many related languages can you find that have different words for even pronouns like I and you? Tu (you) is common to French, Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, Italian..., but there are many different words and, most importantly, diverse pronunciations for you, I, he... amongst the dialects.
  14. Florianus New Member

    China, Hoochewese and Mandarin
    Thank all of you. I personally think Chinese should be recognized as languages not only in UN, overseas but also in mainland China. Therefore, all these language speakers should pass on their mother tongue instead of just learning the official Mandarin (which is not any Chinese people's mother tongue 'cause its created no more than a hundred years).

  15. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Mandarin 國語
    The equation between 方言 and dialect is forced due to lack of a better translation. 方言, a term made famous by Han Dynasty linguist 揚雄, literally means 地方语言 "regional tongues" including different languages and different varieties of a language. Many words listed in 揚雄's 方言 actually belong to Austro-Asiatic languages, not Sino-Tibetan. In other words, a 方言 of China does not necessarily entail membership of Chinese language family.

    In my view, "Chinese" as a language is actually a language family. Mandarin, Cantonese, Hakka and so forth are sister languages. They are not mutually intelligible. Definitions of 方言 from a political point of view are better suited for a political forum. The original meaning of 方言 as used by 揚雄's 方言 is better suited for a linguistic discussion.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2013
  16. Ben pan Senior Member

    I was born in jiangxi, passed five years in jiangsu when I was a teenage, immigrated to Guangdong with my family, studied in Shanghai, now in Beijing, have learnt lots of words of several other languages with my friends from Gansu, Fujian. There is more similarity among 赣方言,粤,吴..than people usually presume. I have not learnt Spanish, Italian, do not know clearly about their relation, but I gather that the kinship among 赣方言,粤,吴.. should be closer than that among Spanish, Italian../
  17. tarlou Senior Member

    I second that the mother tongue should be tested:D But the official Mandarin is not a new language. The modern standard Chinese is based on Beijing accent and northern vocabulary/grammar, which are as old as all southern languages. The written form of Mandarin is also centuries old. You can see 三国演义、红楼梦,etc all have a northern flavor.

    Without considering the political issues, I still doubt Chinese is a macro language (not from the linguistic view). There are many reasons:

    1. To a native Chinese who lives in China, the oral language is not enough. One needs to be educated and learn the formal, written words of Chinese. 子曰:不读诗,无以言. Nowadays a typical Chinese kid has to spend 12 years in schools before college, and Chinese is one of the most important subjects to learn. The Chinese language written by an educated Chinese can be quite different from a small kid. The word "language" to a Chinese means much more than a simple tool to communicate and express life stuffs, whereas the linguistic division focuses only on the oral language. All Chinese from different parts of the country are educated with the same books throughout history, so they share quite similar high-level vocabularies I think.

    2. The similarities and differences between different Chinese languages/dialects are super complicated. I heard of people from a certain region in Sichuan can understand both 西南官话 and a southern language (Cantonese maybe). Also different vocabulary/sounds/grammar do not essentially make a different language. My hometown is in Hebei and my dialect is definitely Mandarin: 你今天都做了什么==>你今儿个都揍嘛了; 我的自行车找不到了==> 难(俺)车子木(没)了. This may confuse some southerner but may not be difficult for northerners. We also have more difficult vocabularies: 轰上(夜晚),弄灾儿了(那么晚了), etc. For two differences places in China, it is not strange that the oral words (especially the most common ones) are completely different. But classifying them (even the oral languages) into two languages/dialects is not an easy job and may need very professional academic work.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2013
  18. Florianus New Member

    China, Hoochewese and Mandarin
    Hi Ben,

    I'm not so sure about 赣語 and 粤語, but I heard many people say 贛語、客語、粵語 have a lot common. Howver, I wouldn't say they are high in intelligibility.
    In contrast, 吳語 shouldn't be put in the category with 粵語 or 贛語, 'cause I personally hear these two languages' difference which is large gap.
    I am not so good at Spanish and not any knowledge with Italian, but I would say they are more similar just from the word use, sounds, etc than Chinese languages.

    Last edited: Aug 10, 2013
  19. Florianus New Member

    China, Hoochewese and Mandarin
    Hi tarlou

    "三国演义、红楼梦,etc" had been translated to Mandarin. And, Mandarin that I mentioned is official one 普通話, not those non-official Mandarin 官話.
    普通話(PuTongHua)indeed combined a lot of Chinese vocabulary including Shanghai Wu Chinese, Cantonese, etc. Cuz it is a mixed language, so I think it is created recently. And, Beijing Mandarin is one of 官話 Chinese. They still have a lot difference, such as: vocabulary, tones, and pronunciation. I assume nowadays no many Beijing teenages can speak fluent Beijing Mandarin without mixing 普通話 vocabulary. If a language lacks the vocabulary, it is not the language anymore but a new mixed language. I call those 京普話 instead of 北京話 'cause 北京話 does not have too many common in vocabulary with 普通話。

    1. Now, only Old Chinese vocabulary survive in most of southern Chinese languages 'cause of invasions from 少數民族, like Manchu and Mongolians, in the old time. The sharing vocabulary is not so much. I speak one of Chinese languages, Hoochew Chinese 福州話, that is one of Min Chiense 閩語, contains Old Chinese pronunciation and vocabulary, the most I think.

    2. 西南官話 in Sichuan and Cantonese in Guangxi share some similarities. A Sichuan person whose mother tongue is Sichuan Southwest Mandarin could learn Cantonese more faster than another person whose mother tongue is Beijing Mandarin.

    You are right, there is difference between eight small different Mandarin Chinese. They share just some difference, like you said:
    你今天都做了什么==>你今儿个都揍嘛了; 我的自行车找不到了==> 难(俺)车子木(没)了. There is even some local special vocabulary that evolved in time, like 轰上(夜晚),弄灾儿了(那么晚了), etc.
    However, those different Chinese languages, like Min language won't be in the same case. The word use is totally different with dissimilar pronunciation.

    People can't say they are the same based on the written form in Chinese characters. European languages mostly use Latin alphabets, but they are still different languages. I would say a language contains different word use, sounds, tones, and grammar.

  20. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie Senior Member

    English (UK)
    I think there must be a typo here and you must correct it quickly, before some people may want to task you for insulting their languages! :D
  21. tarlou Senior Member

    I agree that the slang words are disappearing. But I don't think the language with only Beijing words and no 普通话 words exist. The definition of 普通话 is: phonetically 以北京语音为标准音, vocabulary 以北方话为基础, grammar 以典范的现代白话文著作为语法规范. If you found 普通话 has a lot of Wuu or Cantonese specific words, either those vocabulary also exist in 官话 area, or your 普通话 is not good enough.:D
    Of course, there exist many many special 北京土话 words. But I disagree that only those words are called 北京话. According to my personal knowledge of the northern dialects, there is no way to speak naturally for a while without using a lot of 普通话 words, even my 80-year-old grandfather can't. Most of our words differ from the standard Chinese only phonetically.
    Let me give an example (may not be accurate, just an example). "father" is called 老子 in some place but 爷 in another place. However, 爹、爸爸、父亲、家父、令尊 are well-understood everywhere. It is not a valid question to ask whether these "formal-look" words are 北京话 or 普通话. They are Chinese words. Everyone can use such words in their writings and speak with their own accent in their own dialect/language, and this is not called a mixed language.
    As for 红楼梦, the original text is written in Mandarin because there are many northern specific vocabulary. If one reads it 普通话 sounds, then it is 普通话 with a small proportion of uncommon words, which is not a problem for a big book.

    I was not to claim Min (or other southern language) is not a language. I was just saying the classification is not obvious and may need more work than a forum can do.

    The written form of Chinese is very different from the western situation. What I meant by "written form" is not just the characters, but the formal essays written by Chinese people from different parts of the country. If we talk about only the spoken language, Min etc are definitely different languages. But Chinese have a much "greater" knowledge and culture than just the spoken words. All Chinese are educated with identical textbooks throughout history. And all formal books are written in the same language all around China.
    Imagine back to the ancient examinations, there were students from 江南 and 北京. Is an essay from the exam written in Wuu or Mandarin? This is not a valid question, it's written in Chinese. Of course those essays can be classified as a different language called "classic Chinese". However, I don't agree with such classification either because some classic Chinese are very close to 白话 and some 白话 can contain many classic Chinese sentences.
    There are also other examples. This is a sentence found in 《天朝田亩制度》 (太平天国) :凡分田照人口,不论男妇,算其家口多寡,人多则分多,人寡则分寡. I don't think it's possible to tell this is Mandarin or Cantonese.
    With all these thoughts I'm doubting if it is actually possible to divide the written Chinese (which carries more high-level words than spoken languages, no matter 文言 or 白话). Of course, just some doubts and I don't really want to challenge the well-admitted fact that Chinese has many languages.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2013
  22. Florianus New Member

    China, Hoochewese and Mandarin
    It is well-known for many Chinese linguists that official Mandarin 普通話 contains words borrowed from Japanese, Shanghai Wu (when the time Shanghai was very popular in last century, like the famous 上海灘), and some Cantonese words. This is the truth and 普通話 even has borrowed words from English like 咖啡、沙發 etc. If you don't really know this, it is great to take a note of it from Internet.

    Nowadays, 普通話 has evolved to be different from Beijing Mandarin 北京話. 北京話 has 老子、午响兒 etc local words, and 蝴蝶兒 the totally different pronunciation that only few of older people could remember how to speak cuz of official Mandarin influence that even older generation of Beijing people can speak only good official Mandarin instead of pure Beijing Mandarin. And yes, it is true that Beijing Mandarin and official Mandarin has some commons. But many of them are not pure Beijing Mandarin, but borrowed from official Mandarin and official Mandarin borrowed from other Chinese languages.

    Beijing Mandarin has formed hundreds of years. Mongolians and Manchu invaded Pekin 北平 and affect northern Chinese in a large areas, now that are called Guan Chinese 官話. And there're still a lot of debates there, that northern Chinese evolve away from Old Chinese and southern Chinese.

    紅樓夢 does have some words that are also in Mandarin but it also exist in southern Chinese. Especially, my mother tongue Hoochew Chinese, 新婦 etc. I don't know about how many words are in common with Guan Chinese, but I know many words are still exist in Hoochew Chinese and other southern Chinese.

    令尊、父、爹、爸 come from 文言文mostly, not only Beijing Mandarin and official Mandarin have it. Southern Chinese also do but they are not used in everyday language. These words are also not being used frequently in Guan Chinese as well that only few high officials did in old days.
    Only now, people are well-educated and who use them whenever they would like in formal occasions. Here, I think we should talk about oral Chinese that our ancestors spoken daily during 1950s.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2013
  23. tarlou Senior Member

    I don't see your point actually. I've never said Beijing Mandarin is the same as 普通话. The difference is significant. And I agree that slang words are disappearing. I'm not quite sure about what you mean by "蝴蝶兒 the totally different pronunciation". Isn't it hu4tier3? If both you and me, whose native languages are not Beijing Mandarin, know this, then I think there is no need to worry too much about Beijingers.:D
    No language can stay the same without borrowing other words. And most borrowed words did not exist before the borrowing. There was no 咖啡、沙发、警察、政治 in Mandarin, and that's why these words were borrowed. It simply does not make sense to say these things in so-called "pure" Beijing Mandarin, which does not have these words. Moreover, when those words were borrowed to 普通话, most likely they are borrowed to all other Mandarin languages as well. I'd consider that as an evolvement of both Beijing Mandarin and 普通话, rather than an evolvement of only 普通话 plus an "impurify" of Beijing Mandarin.
    The way that northerners treat 普通话 is probably different from southern language speakers. Beijing Mandarin, 普通话, and any Mandarin dialect are not different languages. People in the Mandarin area share the same operas, 评书, 相声, other entertainments and media since hundreds of years ago. Therefore all Mandarin languages are very much influenced and can't be separated.
    I think I know what you mean by 北京话. We usually call it 老北京话. And to be honest, I don't think it is a different language. The difference from modern 北京话 is that 老北京话 has more slangs. But I don't think that's a big deal.

    I've seen a lot of similar arguments on the internet. I agree that northern dialects might have been influenced by 少数民族. However, I doubt about "Mongolians" and "Manchu", because both languages do not have retroflex consonants and the time of 入声's disappearing was probably before Mongolians. So maybe 辽、金 or others may be possible. That's a different topic anyway.

    As for 红楼梦, it has many many words exist only in northern Mandarin and you may google this. But this is irrelevant so let's don't elaborate more. If we consider the overall language instead of specific vocabulary, your argument seems supporting my position "written Chinese without considering phonology is one language", and I want to claim 红楼梦 is written in the language called Chinese and is understood by all Chinese. I believe it has many in common with southern Chinese, because all Chinese languages share a lot in common in terms of written/formal words.

    As I said I agree that the southern Chinese are different languages if we consider the oral language. My doubt was only about the written language, which carries most of Chinese traditional culture and knowledge, as Chinese civilization is different from a primitive tribe whose only treasure is their endangered spoken language.
    I also want to clarify that I was not using "written" or "formal" to mean difficult words in 文言. Take a look at the Wikipedia pages in Cantonese and Wuu, which are the only source I can find that explicitly claims to be written in Chinese other than Mandarin. The text is completely intelligible to Mandarin users. In fact, in most parts, the differences from Mandarin exist only in a few words. That's what I mean by "written Chinese without considering phonology is one language".
    China was not like western countries that most people were unable to write (in middle ages). Well-educated people were everywhere, not just high officials. (A simple evidence, many ordinary families maintain a 家谱 of a few hundred years. This implies that they can write.) Even the uneducated people were also able to understand those words actually. They learnt the words from every jokes they heard, every opera and song, every social event (marriage/funeral) and many many other ways. Those words are critical to a Chinese who lives in China (I don't know about oversea Chinese descendants who are able to survive in an English society).
    But since you are only considering the spoken languages, let's forget about this.
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2013
  24. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Mandarin 國語
    I can read Archaic Chinese texts with modern Mandarin pronunciations; still, I have to mentally translate the texts into the modern language so as to fully comprehend them. I can read Japanese texts written mostly in Chinese characters and guess all the way through; still, that doesn't prove they belong to the same language. There is a feeling of "distance", either something in a long forgotten past or something strange, something related yet somewhat "foreign". And that's how I feel when I try to pronounce Mandarin texts with Taiwanese pronunciations or to read Cantonese texts with Mandarin pronunciations. I can feel the difference, a feeling of something "forced", not natural. When I see something like 佢姓馬嘅, my brain stumbles and has to make a guess (or translation). And the need for guessing or translation is a tell-tale sign that it is not the same language that I am used to.

    Do Chinese languages share a written language? I'm not sure I would call it a language. It is a writing system that makes apparent the meanings of each vocabulary so that we can guess all the way through and understand most of the texts regardless of what languages we are actually speaking. Say, if English adopts Chinese characters as well, we will have:
    "This is a book. That is a window." ==> 这是一书. 那是一窗户. Will we claim that English and Chinese belong the same language as a result thereof? Is there truly a shared written language underlying those two languages or is it simply a shared writing system?
  25. tarlou Senior Member

    I'm not using "written language" to mean "written system". "written system" obviously does not imply anything.
    "written language" means the high level, formal vocabulary. I'm aware of things like 佢姓馬嘅. But those Cantonese specific words is just a small proportion (and actually some of them are "wrong" characters). Words without a "written form" also widely exist in all 官话 dialects and distance exists when you pronounce with a different accent. If those things can make a different language, then there are at least 1000 different languages in 官话 area.
  26. Skatinginbc

    Skatinginbc Senior Member

    Mandarin 國語
    Even if two languages share 80% of core vocabulary, it can mean they are at least one millennium apart from each other. The rate of change for Icelandic constituted merely around 4% per millennium.

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