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Identifying German–English cognates, false cognates, and non-cognates: methodological issues and descriptive norms

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 December 2001

Brian M. Friel
Affiliation:
University of Oklahoma
Shelia M. Kennison
Affiliation:
University of Oklahoma

Abstract

We investigated 563 German–English nouns for the purposes of identifying cognates, false cognates and non-cognates. Two techniques for identifying cognates were used and compared: (i) De Groot and Nas's (1991) similarity-rating technique and (ii) a translation-elicitation task similar to that of Kroll and Stewart (1994). The results obtained with English-speaking participants produced 112 cognates, 94 false cognates, and 357 non cognates and indicated that the two techniques yielded similar findings. Rated similarity of German–English translation pairs and translation accuracy were positively correlated. We also investigated whether the presence of German-specific characters and the availability of German pronunciation information influenced similarity ratings and translation accuracy. Ratings for translation pairs in which the German word contained a language-specific character were lower and the word was translated less accurately. Participants provided with pronunciation information rated German–English translation pairs as being more similar and translated German words correctly more often than participants who did not receive pronunciation information. We also report the relationships among word frequency, rated imageability and the performance measures. The resulting database of information is intended to be a resource for researchers interested in cognitive processing in German–English bilinguals.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2001 Cambridge University Press

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