Mutual Intelligibility and Surprisal in Slavic Intercomprehension (INCOMSLAV-3)

Project C4

In the first two phases of the CRC, the empirical focus of C4 was on the mutual intelligibility of visual (written) or auditory (spoken) input for speakers of closely related languages in the Slavic language family. Experimental and modelling work in the second phase, which has combined methods from language, speech and translation technology, has provided a wealth of findings highlighting how information density is distributed across the acoustic and the text channels in successful intercomprehension. Based on these results, we are now in a position to address, in the third phase, core properties of intercomprehension as they unfold in goal-oriented communication, characterized by cooperative behaviour and adaptive interaction. This overarching goal entails the investigation of linguistic structures beyond lexical similarity and word sequence based predictability, taking into account constructional similarity, the cross-lingual transparency of multi- component units, and prosody. Specifically, conversational dialogue-style experimental setups are employed in order to explore the (ex)change of information as the interaction unfolds. We will develop models of surprisal capturing the information conveyed by multi- component units and prosodic features, in particular intonation. Finally, C4 will validate the scalability of our results and models in terms of a transfer to a selected set of features of other language families, e.g. Semitic.


Keywords: intercomprehension, Slavistics, cross-lingual surprisal