Query (Me änkieli)

Mike Morgan mwmbombay at gmail.com
Wed Oct 31 13:43:23 UTC 2012

I am in no position to comment on the status of Meänkieli viz-a-viz
Finnish,. However there is a bit of "having ones cake and eating it
too" in Jaakko 's argumentation.

To say that one SHOULD IGNORE peripheral dialects in deciding whether
Swedish and Norwegian are separate languages (because "the "nucleus"
Swedish is clearly a separate language") and then to say that we
CANNOT IGNORE the peripheral Far-Bothnian dialects of Finnish in
deciding that Meänkieli is NOT a separate language is a bit

Also, length of time since separation does not, in an of itself,
determine whether two languages should be considered as separate or
not (if it did, then we would probably all be doing glottochronology
still!). For an extreme example (an example far afield; sorry!) Nepali
Sign Language and Indian Sign Language (the two languages I work most
closely with these days) are, according to the standard view (a view I
DO NOT hold) separated by a mere 30 or 40 years. Yet, in those years,
such a drastic amount of change has occured in Nepali Sign language
(and perhaps considerably less in india  Sig  Language), on both
lexical and structural levels (although maybe not so much in the
syntax) that Nepali Sign language would be at best minimally (20%?
25%?) inteligible to an Indian signer. Mutual comprehensibility is a
generally considered a reasonably good rule of thumb for
distinguishing languages (although, of course, it is sometimes NOT
bidirectional; for example Nepali signers would, due to a greater
exposure to Indian Sign Language, and to a variety of other foreign
sign languages thereby promoting a greater degree of "flexibility" in
understanding, have a much easier time understanding Indian Sign

just my 2 cents (or paisa) worth...

mwm || *U*C> || mike || माईक || мика || マイク (aka Dr Michael W Morgan)
sign language linguist / linguistic typologist
academic adviser, Nepal Sign Language Training and Research
NDFN, Kathmandu, Nepal

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