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Research on mutual intelligibility of closely related languages in Europe

Online game already played 15.000 times
19 November 2013

How well can people understand a language that is closely related to their native language? The MICReLa research group, based at the University of Groningen, developed an online game to investigate this matter. The game has already been played by more than 15.000 persons. To make a meaningful analysis, the researchers need more than 24.000 participants from 16 countries.

English does not work sometimes

In order to communicate within Europe, many people learn English. Yet, a lot of people still do not speak English sufficiently well. An alternative for using English might be receptive multilingualism. Speakers of two different, but related languages both speak their own language and are still able to understand each other to a certain extent. Receptive multilingualism is possible when languages are mutually intelligible.


Languages that are mutually intelligible are closely related to each other. The Scandinavian languages for instance, are mutually intelligible to a high degree. Therefore receptive multilingualism is already widely used in Scandinavia. The advantages of this way of communicating are that the speakers only need to focus on understanding the other language and that they can express themselves in their native language.         

Online game

The MICReLa research group investigates how mutually intelligible European languages are and which factors influence the mutual intelligibility of languages. They developed an online language game in which people can test how well they understand a related European language. The group will use the results of this game for their intelligibility research. The game can be found via this link:

Language groups

Participants with all kinds of backgrounds can participate; the only criterion is that they speak a European variant of one of the languages below. There are 16 languages in three language groups involved in the game: Germanic, Slavic and Romance. Participants of the language game can win various attractive prizes.




















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Last modified:15 September 2017 3.31 p.m.

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