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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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Linguistic Determinants of the Intelligibility of Swedish Words among Danes

Linguistic Determinants of the Intelligibility of Swedish Words among Danes

(p.83) Linguistic Determinants of the Intelligibility of Swedish Words among Danes
Computing and Language Variation

Sebastian KÜrschner

Charlotte Gooskens

RenÉe Van Bezooijen

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter investigates the degree to which various linguistic factors contribute to the intelligibility of Swedish words among Danes. It correlates the results of an experiment on word intelligibility with eleven linguistic factors and performs logistic regression analyses. In the experiment, it tests the intelligibility of 384 frequent Swedish words among Danish listeners via the Internet. It shows that the highest correlation occurs in the negative correlation between word intelligibility and phonetic distance. Moreover, word length, different syllable numbers, foreign sounds, neighbourhood density, word frequency, orthography, and the absence of the prosodic phenomenon of ‘stød’ in Swedish contribute significantly to intelligibility. Although the results thus show that linguistic factors contribute to the intelligibility of single words, the amount of explained variance is not very large when compared with earlier studies which were based on aggregate intelligibility. The lower correlation can also be attributed to the higher number of idiosyncrasies of single words compared with the aggregate intelligibility and linguistic distance used in earlier studies.

Keywords:   linguistic factors, Swedish, Danish, intelligibility, phonetic distance, word length, foreign sounds, word frequency, orthography, single words

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