Politics Magazine

Spanish-Italian Mutual Intelligibility

Posted on the 20 October 2014 by Calvinthedog

See this video here.

This is an interview with the director of a documentary called Rio De Onor which I would really like to see, except that it is in Italian. Rio de Onor is a town on the border of Spain and Portugal where an odd Senabrian Leonese with Galician influences lect full of Portuguese words is spoken. It is probably similar to Mirandese, but I think it is in a different branch of Leonese than Mirandese is. Rihonores-Mirandese mutual intelligibility (MI) is not known. The town is split. Half of the town is in Portugal, and the other half is in Spain! The residents typically spoke Rihonores, but they also all spoke both Portuguese and Spanish. They spoke Spanish and Portuguese indifferently, mixing them together along with Rihonores.

It is said that Rihonores is extinct or nearly extinct, but that does not seem to be the case. The writeup for this movie says that all of the town’s residents spoke “Mirandese” often during the filming, which took place in 1996. Rio de Onor does not speak Mirandese, but it does speak Rihonores, so the writeup must be referring to Rihonores.

I doubt if Rihonores has gone extinct since then. In addition, a recent paper was written on the grammar of Rihonores. The paper was authored in the mid-1990’s and was written in Portuguese, but I was able to read it in part anyway, especially with the help of a translator. The paper stated that residents of the town now spoke Spanish and Portuguese most of the time. They all knew Rihonores, but its use seemed to be more reserved for special occasions as if it were some sort of ceremonial language.

The town is located in a binational national park and it has a Medieval appearance about it. Rio de Onor has been losing population for some time now and there are not many people left in the town.

At any rate, I continue to see comments that Spanish and Italian are mutually intelligible. Well, I just watched 5 1/2 minutes of an interview with this Italian director, and I can tell you right now that I did not understand one single word he said. That’s a Spanish-Italian MI rate of 0%.

If you don’t know Italian but have knowledge of another Romance language, watch this video and tell me how much Italian you can understand.

I think the MI of Spanish and Italian is much exaggerated.


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