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Applied Linguistics Review

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The role of dialect exposure in receptive multilingualism

Charlotte Gooskens / Wilbert Heeringa
Published Online: 2014-04-11 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2014-0011


Previous investigations of inter-Scandinavian intelligibility have shown that, in general, Norwegians are better at understanding the closely related languages Danish and Swedish than Danes and Swedes are at understanding Norwegian. This asymmetry is often explained by the strong position that dialects hold in Norway as opposed to in Denmark and Sweden. In Norway, the general public is more exposed to language variation than in Sweden and Denmark. Due to this exposure Norwegians are assumed to have higher language awareness and more possibilities for linguistic transfer than Swedes and Danes. This could make it easier for them to understand closely related language varieties. The aim of the present investigation is to get an answer to the question whether Norwegians are better at understanding Nordic varieties relative to linguistic distances than Danes. If it is indeed the case that Norwegians have more language awareness, we would expect them to be better than Danes at understanding varieties with the same linguistic distance to their native variety. Our results show that Norwegians are generally better at understanding Nordic language varieties than Danes are. However, this can be explained by linguistic distances and knowledge of the language varieties in the test. No evidence was found for more general language awareness among Norwegians than among Danes.

Keywords: receptive multilingualism; Scandinavian; L3; language awareness; linguistic distances;

About the article

Charlotte Gooskens

Charlotte Gooskens is Associate Professor of European Linguistics at the department of Applied Linguistics at the University of Groningen. Her research interests include sociophonetics, linguistic distance measurements, receptive multilingualism and experimental linguistics. She is currently principal investigator of the project Mutual intelligibility of closely related languages in Europe: linguistic and non-linguistic determinants.

Wilbert Heeringa

Wilbert Heeringa was born in 1970, and obtained his doctorate at the University of Groningen. He passed with distinction. He is currently involved in projects which investigate the mutual intelligibility of closely related languages (since 2011 in Groningen) and vowel variation in Saterland Frisian (since 2013 in Oldenburg).

Published Online: 2014-04-11

Published in Print: 2014-04-01

Citation Information: Applied Linguistics Review, Volume 5, Issue 1, Pages 247–271, ISSN (Online) 1868-6311, ISSN (Print) 1868-6303, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2014-0011.

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