Mutual intelligibility

of closely related languages




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Why are the Danes so hard to understand? - An experimental study.

(with Vincent van Heuven, University of Leiden)

It is often claimed, both in scientific and popular literature, that the Danish language is hard to understand. This would not only hold for speakers of other languages, but most remarkably even for the Danes themselves. We designed an experiment to test whether Danish is indeed intrinsically difficult to understand. We took Swedish as a reference, since this language is closely related to Danish but in general regarded as a well-articulated language. Functional intelligibility tests were carried out with spontaneous and read sentences as well as isolated words. Both Danish and Swedish listeners were tested. The stimulus material was presented in a series of descending noise levels (i.e. from difficult to easy). We took the intelligibility threshold as a measure for intrinsic intelligibility.

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Last update: 19.04.2010

Finished projects