The role of loanwords in the intelligibility of written Danish among Swedes

Charlotte Gooskens, Sebastian Kürschner, Vincent J. Van Heuven

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review


We investigated the intelligibility of written Danish for Swedes, and in particular the role of inherited words compared to non-Germanic loanwords. To assess whether shared loanwords are easier to understand than inherited words, we conducted two experiments. First, we tested the intelligibility of isolated Danish words (inherited words and loanwords) among Swedes. Second, we constructed two versions of a reading test, one with a large percentage of loanwords and one with few loanwords. Our results show that it is easier for Swedish listeners to identify and understand Danish cognate loanwords than inherited words and that texts with many loanwords are easier to read than texts with few loanwords. We explain these results by the fact that (recent) loans in Swedish have diverged less and are therefore more similar to the Danish counterparts than inherited words.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNordic Journal of Linguistics
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Danish and Swedish
  • intelligibility of loanwords versus inherited words
  • intelligibility testing
  • Keywords:
  • level of integration of loanwords
  • orthographic distances
  • receptive multilingualism


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