How come some languages are mutually intelligible but only in one form of communication?


The example I’m thinking of is Urdu and Hindi. They’re different languages but have so much in common that in conversation there’s rarely a need to translate, but I can’t read or write a single word of the other language. So how did we end up speaking the same and writing different?

In: 1

Isn’t Urdu broadly just [Hindi, as spoken by Muslims], and vice versa? Well, since Muslims need to know how to read Arabic script to engage with the Quran, why spend the effort to learn to read and write two different ways, when you can just write your vernacular in the same alphabet you use for your culture’s sacred writings? Likewise with Hindu Hindi-speakers who need to be able to read the classical Sanskrit texts.

Different cultures. The thing you put garbage in, is that a bin, trash can, dumpster, receptacle, ect.? Is the garbage rubbish, trash, waste, litter, ect.? Even in English, the place you are matters. In china there are more than 13 languages that make up “chinese”, some can talk to others, some can’t. It all depends on the region.

The written form of a language can change (quite independently of the language changing), and this actually happens quite often.

For example,

* Vietnamese is written in the latin script, because the script was changed during the French occupation. It originally used a set of characters related to Chinese characters.
* Chinese itself has changed its script from “traditional” to “simplified” characters, except in Taiwan.
* Malay was once written in “Jawi”, a script similar to Arabic. Now it uses the latin alphabet. Turkish, similarly, once used a script similar to Arabic, and now uses the latin script.
* Hindi and Urdu are merely the official forms of a language linguists call Hindustani, or Hindi-Urdu. The language was originally written using a script similar to that now used for Hindi, the Urdu script is a modified form of the Persian script, which in turn is a modified form of the Arabic script.

There are other examples, too.