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Phonetic comparison, varieties, and networks

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While his eponymous basic vocabulary lists and the study of language divergence may be Swadesh’s most appreciated legacies, we demonstrate that phonetic quantification of language varieties also follows very much in the tradition of Swadesh’s own work. We compare a few different measures of phonetic distance on a very small set of data from Germanic varieties, showing the influence of lexicostatistics and the relevance of Swadesh’s ‘Mesh Principle’. What we emphasise overall is that Swadesh’s influence is palpable, even in domains outside those for which he is best remembered.
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Keywords: Levenshtein distance; language varieties; networks; phonetic features

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-10-11

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