Distributions of cognates in Europe as based on Levenshtein distance
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SourceBilingualism. Language and Cognition, 15, 1, (2012), pp. 157-166
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC PL
SW OW PsKI [owi]
Bilingualism. Language and Cognition
SubjectCognitive and developmental aspects of Multilingualism; DI-BCB_DCC_Theme 1: Language and Communication; Psycholinguistics; Variation and Distance
Researchers on bilingual processing can benefit from computational tools developed in artificial intelligence. We show that a normalized Levenshtein distance function can efficiently and reliably simulate bilingual orthographic similarity ratings. Orthographic similarity distributions of cognates and non-cognates were identified across pairs of six European languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Dutch. Semantic equivalence was determined using the conceptual structure of a translation database. By using a similarity threshold, large numbers of cognates could be selected that nearly completely included the stimulus materials of experimental studies. The identified numbers of form-similar and identical cognates correlated highly with branch lengths of phylogenetic language family trees, supporting the usefulness of the new measure for cross-language comparison. The normalized Levenshtein distance function can be considered as a new formal model of cross-language orthographic similarity.
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