Quantifying Dialect Similarity by Comparison of the Lexical Distribution of Phonemes

Warren Maguire

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:
Quantifying Dialect Similarity by Comparison of the Lexical Distribution of Phonemes

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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

Chapter.  6964 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Language Teaching and Learning

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