Stenger, Irina; Avgustinova, Tania

Visual vs. auditory perception of Bulgarian stimuli by Russian native speakers

P. Selegej, Vladimir et al. (Ed.): Computational Linguistics and Intellectual Technologies: Papers from the Annual International Conference ‘Dialogue’, pp. 684 - 695, 2020.

This study contributes to a better understanding of receptive multilingualism by determining similarities and differences in successful processing of written and spoken cognate words in an unknown but (closely) related language. We investigate two Slavic languages with regard to their mutual intelligibility. The current focus is on the recognition of isolated Bulgarian words by Russian native speakers in a cognate guessing task, considering both written and audio stimuli.

The experimentally obtained intercomprehension scores show a generally high degree of intelligibility of Bulgarian cognates to Russian subjects, as well as processing difficulties in case of visual vs. auditory perception. In search of an explanation, we examine the linguistic factors that can contribute to various degrees of written and spoken word intelligibility. The intercomprehension scores obtained in the online word translation experiments are correlated with (i) the identical and mismatched correspondences on the orthographic and phonetic level, (ii) the word length of the stimuli, and (iii) the frequency of Russian cognates. Additionally we validate two measuring methods: the Levenshtein distance and the word adaptation surprisal as potential predictors of the word intelligibility in reading and oral intercomprehension.