Mutual intelligibility

of closely related languages




Research projects

Ongoing projects


The role of orthography for the mutual intelligibility of spoken Swedish and Danish

(with Gerard Doetjes, Nasjonalt senter for fremmedspråk i opplæringen, Høgskolen i Østfold)

In this investigation we will focus on the different relationships between the written and the spoken languages in Sweden and Denmark. These differences are often mentioned as an explanation for the asymmetric intelligibility between Swedish and Danish. The Danish spoken language has developed very rapidly during the last 50 years. As a result there is a large distance between spoken and written Danish. This difference is smaller in Swedish, where the spoken language has developed less rapidly. The orthographies in the two countries have changed less drastically and therefore written Swedish and Danish are much more similar than the spoken languages. The different relationships between the spoken and written languages in the two countries have resulted in different points of departures as far as the understanding of the spoken neighboring language is concerned. When a Dane hears a Swedish word he often has more support from the Danish spelling of the corresponding word than a Swede hearing the corresponding Danish word has from the Swedish spelling. This may be part of the explanation for the Swedish-Danish asymmetric intelligibility. We plan word recognition experiments in order to test this hypothesis.

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On-line activation of L1 orthography enhances spoken word recognition of a closely related L2

Last update: 09.12.2011

Finished projects