Which "bilingual" countries are actually bilingual?

Pedro y La Torre

Senior Member
English (Ireland)
Catalan is surely advantaged by the fact that it's quite intelligible for a Spanish-speaker. Basque isn't. Neither is Irish (for an English-speaker). One cannot pick these languages up passively because they are from radically different language families. I can read a good percentage of Catalan newspapers thanks to French and schoolboy Spanish. Despite 10 years of Irish classes at school, I struggle to read anything that goes beyond the basics.
 
  • merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    Yes, learning everyday Catalan is a piece of cake for Spanish speakers (and vice versa) but the flipside in such situations of proximity is the regional language might slowly dilute under strong pressure from the national language.

    Irish cannot melt into English. It can only be replaced by it.
     

    gato radioso

    Senior Member
    spanish-spain
    Irish cannot melt into English. It can only be replaced by it.
    But is Irish widely spoken among by the average citizens? I friend of mine, from Wales, once told me that everybody spoke English there, despite the insistence from institutions or the public sector in favour of Welsh.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    English (USA Northeast)
    But is Irish widely spoken among by the average citizens? I friend of mine, from Wales, once told me that everybody spoke English there, despite the insistence from institutions or the public sector in favour of Welsh.
    I will let @Pedro y La Torre answer this one, but I believe Irish is widely studied but not used. An Irish friend from Galway told me the goal was to keep it alive, learn it, treasure it, cultivate it but not replace English in daily life.
     

    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    I have only met one native Irish-speaker in my entire life who couldn't also speak native-level English (in fact, he spoke very little English at all) and he was a 90 year old man in a rural area of County Galway who had probably never left his village. That should tell you all you need to know. If Irish had the same relationship to English as Catalan has to Spanish, there's a good chance we'd all be able to speak it to some degree.
     

    gato radioso

    Senior Member
    spanish-spain
    I will let @Pedro y La Torre answer this one, but I believe Irish is widely studied but not used. An Irish friend from Galway told me the goal was to keep it alive, learn it, treasure it, cultivate it but not replace English in daily life.
    I guess that´s a different point of view. On the other hand, in some other places, in the Spanish State, there is some kind of beligerance: the Spanish language tends to be marginalised in the daily life in favour of other languages which are officially promoted to compete in identical terms with Spanish, as if they were comparable in size or practicality. The average citizen doesn´t seem to think that languages can be an issue of any kind or take extreme positons either, but we all know that, many times, the public sector: civil servants, politicians, etc... live in their own world.
     
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    Pedro y La Torre

    Senior Member
    English (Ireland)
    Yes but no-one cares about Scots or Ulster Scots. It's seen as a debased dialect (except by its advocates, obviously). If it had the cachet that Catalan has in Catalonia, Lowland Scots would all speak it. The uniquely Scottish tongue in Scotland is usually considered to be Gaelic not Scots. And Gaelic in Scotland suffers from the same problem as Gaelic in Ireland.
     
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    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    The aim is to establish the degree of lexical similarity; not to put labels to the languages.
    The parallelism was because English might look like a Romance language for some people instead of Germanic if we decided to overlook the essential fact that the Germanic words are those which more clearly belong to the core of the language.

    Lexical similarity is one of many approaches linguists can use to classify and label languages, after all.

    Anyway, we went too out of topic so it's about time to stop this discussion and go back to the thread's question.
    I agree. Maybe these latter posts should better be merged with the thread on lexical similarity measuring.
     

    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    The parallelism was because English might look like a Romance language for some people instead of Germanic if we decided to overlook the essential fact that the Germanic words are those which more clearly belong to the core of the language.

    Lexical similarity is one of many approaches linguists can use to classify and label languages, after all.


    I agree. Maybe these latter posts should better be merged with the thread on lexical similarity measuring.


    If we look at it like that, Danish would also be a Romance language because it added a lot of originally Latin words via English, or the words were in both languages all along.
    That of course is complete nonsense. A language does not shift from being a Germanic language to Romance language.
    The structure of the language is obviously still Germanic.
     
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