Criteria for languages?

John Cowan cowan at
Thu Dec 3 05:16:39 CET 2009

Randy Presuhn scripsit:

> How inclined are users of Latgalian to consider their language a
> variety of Latvian?

I'm willing to bet, sight unseen, that the question is extremely

> FWIW, though I am a native speaker of (North Central) American English,
> I understand neither of those varieties reliably.

I'm always surprised when people say this.  Beyond vocubulary, I don't
have much problem with any accent of the standard dialect, though
varieties close to mine are certainly easier to understand in a noisy
channel or when the speaker is mumbling or murmuring.

John Cowan  cowan at
"The exception proves the rule."  Dimbulbs think: "Your counterexample proves
my theory."  Latin students think "'Probat' means 'tests': the exception puts
the rule to the proof."  But legal historians know it means "Evidence for an
exception is evidence of the existence of a rule in cases not excepted from."

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