Linguistic Determinants of the Intelligibility of Swedish Words among Danes

Sebastian KÜrschner, Charlotte Gooskens and RenÉe Van Bezooijen

in Computing and Language Variation

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780748640300
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671380 | DOI:
Linguistic Determinants of the Intelligibility of Swedish Words among Danes

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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

Chapter.  7255 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Language Teaching and Learning

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