Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Non-linguists' judgments of linguistic distances between dialects

Charlotte Gooskens


This study explores the relative contribution of geographic and objective linguistic distances to the perceived and estimated linguistic distances between Norwegian dialects as judged by non-linguists. The perceived linguistic distances were quantified by playing recordings of fifteen Norwegian dialects to groups of subjects from the same fifteen places and having them judge the linguistic distance of each dialect to their own dialect. The estimated linguistic distances were collected by asking the subjects to judge the distances on the basis of the place names only. Geographic distances were quantified as straight line distances and as traveling times from the year 1900. The objective linguistic distances were computed by means of the Levenshtein algorithm. The results show that non-linguists’ preconceived ideas about linguistic distances are based mainly on geographic information while both linguistic and geographic information play a role when they judge distances on the basis of dialect samples.

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