mutually intelligible

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English[edit]

Adjective[edit]

mutually intelligible (not comparable)

  1. (linguistics) Of two or more speech varieties, able to be understood by one another's speakers.
    • 1860, Alfred R. Wallace, Notes of a Voyage to New Guinea, in Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, Vol. 30
      This language, or mutually intelligible forms of it, is spoken by the coast-dwellers over an extensive area
    • 1917, F. W. H. Migeod, The Racial Elements Concerned in the First Siege of Troy, in Man, Vol. 17
      Another important point is that Homer recognises that the speech of Trojans and Greeks was mutually intelligible.

Usage notes[edit]

Linguists use the criterion of mutual intelligibility to determine whether the speech of two different groups represents two distinct languages, or two dialects of a single language.

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