What Role does Dialect Knowledge Play in the Perception of Linguistic Distances?

Wilbert Heeringa, Charlotte Gooskens and Koenraad de Smedt

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:
What Role does Dialect Knowledge Play in the Perception of Linguistic Distances?

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This chapter investigates the extent to which subjects base their judgments of linguistic distance on actual dialect data presented in a listening experiment and the extent to which they make use of previous knowledge of the dialects when making their judgments. The point of departure for this study are distances between fifteen Norwegian dialects as perceived by Norwegian listeners. Perceptual distance is correlated with objective phonetic distance measured on the basis of the transcriptions of the recordings used in the perception experiment. In addition, perceptual distance is correlated with objective distance based on other datasets. On the basis of the correlation results and multiple regression analyses, the chapter concludes that the listeners did not base their judgments solely on information that they hear during the experiments but also on their general knowledge of the dialects. This conclusion is confirmed by the fact that the effect is stronger for the group of listeners who recognise the dialects than for listeners who do not recognise the dialects on the tape.

Keywords: linguistic distance; dialects; Norwegian; perceptual distance; phonetic distance; listening; judgments; knowledge

Chapter.  6596 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Language Teaching and Learning

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