At the moment I can read Finnish and English fluently and Swedish, Danish and Norwegian reasonably well. I have also studied and forgotten a little bit of French.

When I was actively looking for academic positions, I could quite easily understand whether a job was suitable for me, even if I only found information in Dutch or German.

I have also read abstracts of scientific papers written in Spanish, Portuguese, German and French and figured out whether they are relevant for my current research or not. Further, I have read results in some papers in German well enough to understand them, though this required help from a dictionary or translation software.

Does this phenomenon of being able to skim and read texts in languages where one only has studied a relalated language have a name?

  • Could you say that you are fluent in X languages and literate in Y?
    – K Man
    Oct 20, 2019 at 21:24
  • @KMan Yes, but I am not asking how to express myself, but rather whether a given phenomenon has a specific name.
    – Tommi
    Oct 21, 2019 at 4:27

1 Answer 1


Mutual Intelligibility is a relationship between languages or dialects in which speakers of different but related varieties can readily understand each other without prior familiarity or special effort.

See also:

  • Is there a term for mutual intelligibility with respect to reading only, as OP asked (or conversely, spoken only)? In my case, I know enough Spanish and Swedish so that I can read Portuguese or Danish, but the spoken languages are gibberish to me. May 2, 2019 at 20:11

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