Ähnlichkeit und synchrone Transparenz von Kognatenbeziehungen in der
The possibilities of intercomprehension (= receptive multilingualism within a
language family, here restricted to reading comprehension) strongly depend on
cognate words and on the transparency of their relationships, which are often
obscured by diverging phonological developments in the individual languages.
This article presents results of two tests in which German subjects were to find
German cognates to words from unknown Germanic languages. The focus of our attention
is on the phonological aspect: Does transparency of cognate relations only depend on
the number of common segments of the cognate words or also on the kind of phonological
differences? If the latter is the case, which kinds of differences do affect recognition,
and to what extent? The data from a free response and a multiple choice task indicate
that cognate recognition is particularly easy when the correspondence between the
differing segments is familiar from variation and alternation phenomena in the L1.
More generally, articulatory similarity seems to play an important role for intuitions
about possible cognate relationships.