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Computing and Language VariationInternational Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing Volume 2$
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John Nerbonne and Charlotte Gooskens

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780748640300

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748640300.001.0001

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Quantifying Dialect Similarity by Comparison of the Lexical Distribution of Phonemes

Quantifying Dialect Similarity by Comparison of the Lexical Distribution of Phonemes

Chapter:
(p.261) Quantifying Dialect Similarity by Comparison of the Lexical Distribution of Phonemes
Source:
Computing and Language Variation
Author(s):

Warren Maguire

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748640300.003.0015

In recent years, there has been considerable progress in assessing the relationships between linguistic varieties by measuring the similarity between strictly comparable sets of phonetic data. This chapter describes a new method for quantifying the similarity of the lexical distribution of phonemes in different varieties of a language (in this case English). It discusses phonological problems which must be addressed if any comparison of this sort is to be attempted, and applies the method to a limited data set of varieties of English. It suggests a solution to one particularly thorny issue in English phonology, rhoticity, and, in so doing, allows an even deeper insight into the connections between varieties. Since the method assesses their structural similarity, it will be useful for analysing the historical development of varieties of English and the relationships (either as a result of common origin or of contact) that hold between them.

Keywords:   lexical distribution, phonemes, structural similarity, English, dialects, rhoticity, phonology

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