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According to Intercomprehension Pedagogy, speakers of one language should learn to read and understand etymologically related languages, either separately from one another or concurrently, as is planned in the EuroComRom project. In order to utilize intercomprehension, however, information about the subjective mutual comprehensibility of languages is needed. Within the EuroComGerm project, for example, it is important to study which Germanic languages are easier to comprehend in which situations and for which learners, and whether further individual learning factors such as age, language learning experience etc. have an impact on the success in comprehending new languages.
The study seeks to shed light on some of these questions, acting as a starting point for the use of EuroComGerm within a language learning situation.
Language distance has always been regarded a crucial aspect of understanding a foreign language. Language distance is measurable by Levenshtein algorithm. Research on bilingualism has focused on (visual) word recognition of homographs, homophones and cognates and supports an overlapping bilingual memory model. This overlap must be expected in multilinguals as well and must lead to a rather complex model. This article discusses the concepts of language distance (measurement) and mental lexicon (models) from the perspective of the intercomprehensional skills of 'real' subjects reading a text in an unknown language Dutch with little - though quite regular - distance to their L1 (German) and L2 (English). The author points at some effects that text construction, dominant language networks and phonetic reading ability may have on cognate recognition.