Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: Mutual intelligibility of Dutch-German cognates by children: The devil is in the detail
Contributor(s): Gooskens, Charlotte  (author); van Bezooijen, Renee (author); van Heuven, Vincent J (author)
Publication Date: 2015
DOI: 10.1515/ling-2015-0002
Handle Link:
Abstract: Several studies (e.g., Ház 2005) have found German to be easier to understand for Dutch listeners than Dutch for German listeners. This asymmetry has been attributed to the fact that German is an obligatory subject in Dutch secondary school and that many Dutch people watch German television. In contrast, it is much less common for German children to learn Dutch at school and for German people to watch Dutch television. It cannot be excluded, however, that in addition to the extralinguistic factor of language contact, linguistic factors also play a role in the asymmetric intelligibility between German and Dutch. The present study aimed at gaining insight into the phonetic-phonological factors playing a role in Dutch-German intelligibility at the word level for speakers of the respective languages in a first confrontation (i.e., assuming no prior language contact). We presented highly frequent Dutch and German cognate nouns, recorded by a perfect bilingual speaker, to Dutch and German children between 9 and 12 years in a word translation task. The German and Dutch children were comparable in that they did not know the other language or a related dialect and expressed equally positive attitudes towards the other language, its speakers and the country. It was thus ensured that language contact and language attitude could not play a role in the present study. Our results revealed that the Dutch subjects were significantly better at understanding the German cognates (50.2% correct translations) than the German subjects were at understanding the Dutch cognates (41.9%). Since the relevant extra-linguistic factors had been excluded, the asymmetry must have a linguistic basis. A thorough analysis of the 16 cognate pairs with an asymmetry larger than 20% showed that (combinations of) neighbors (lexical competitors), phonetic detail and asymmetric perceptions of corresponding sounds play a major role in the explanation of the asymmetry.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Linguistics, 53(2), p. 255-283
Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton
Place of Publication: Germany
ISSN: 0024-3949
Field of Research (FOR): 200103 International and Development Communication
200307 German Language
200105 Organisational, Interpersonal and Intercultural Communication
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO): 950201 Communication Across Languages and Culture
970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
Statistics to Oct 2018: Visitors: 58
Views: 78
Downloads: 0
Appears in Collections:Journal Article
School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

Files in This Item:
2 files
File Description SizeFormat 
Show full item record


checked on Nov 26, 2018

Page view(s)

checked on Mar 5, 2019
Google Media

Google ScholarTM



Items in Research UNE are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.