The Leipzig-Jakarta list as a means to test Old English / Old Norse mutual intelligibility
The use of basic word lists has long been common in the fields of second language acquisition and language typology. The application to the study of mutual intelligibility between closely related languages on the other hand has never gained much traction. This article will analyse the degree of mutual intelligibility between the vocabularies of Old English (Anglian) and Old Norse (Old Icelandic) with the use of the Leipzig-Jakarta List which ranks vocabulary by their resistance to borrowing. The entries were transliterated to the International Phonetic Alphabet and truncated so that only the word-roots remained. The entries were then compared using a rule-set based on phonetic deviations, the so-called Levenshtein Distance and a method derived from it called ALINE. The study finds a relatively low phonetic distance between the lists and concludes that they are overall close enough to be mutually intelligible.
Published online: 16 October 2020
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