QLVL members - Leen Impe


Leen Impe studied Germanic Languages (Dutch-English), with a specialization in linguistics, at the University of Leuven (2002-2006). Holding a four-year doctoral scholarship, she is currently involved in a VNC-research project on mutual intelligibility of language varieties in the Low Countries, in cooperation with the Universities of Nijmegen and Groningen (The Netherlands). Her main research interests lie in the fields of variational linguistics and sociolinguistics.


E-mail: leen.impe@arts.kuleuven.be
URL: http://perswww.kuleuven.be/leen_impe
Phone: ++32 16 32 48 20
Fax: ++32 16 32 47 67
Surface mail: Department of Linguistics, Blijde-Inkomststraat 21 PO Box 03308, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium
Office: room 02.37 of the Faculty of Arts of the University of Leuven



Mutual intelligibility of language varieties in the Low Countries: linguistic and attitudinal determinants.

This PhD project aims to investigate the influence of several factors on mutual intelligibility of Flemish and Netherlandic Dutch. The linguistic variance of the Low Countries is well represented in the study. Although it does not focus on dialects (as was always the case in previous research), it includes standard language as well as so-called "interlanguage" (viz. "Poldernederlands" in The Netherlands and "tussentaal" in Flanders).

All of these varieties will be evaluated by a peer group in a twofold design: first by identifying the words (phonetically as well as semantically), and second by a word recognition experiment in which reaction times are measured. Both designs will be presented in three different conditions: in isolation, in a semantically neutral context and in a meaningful context.

This experimental approach will shed light on the precise impact of the parameters 'linguistic distance', 'language attitudes' and 'familiarity' on mutual intelligibility. Previous research has already examined this topic by means of subjective introspection by informants, yet no research exists that carries out measurements to investigate intelligibility. Therefore, this study is innovative in the field: every factor will be measured by a specifically developed method.

Phonetic distance will be measured by the Levenshtein distance (Kessler 1995), which is a computer-based algorithm that expresses phonetic similarity in one number. Lexical distance will be measured by the onomasiological profile-based methodology (Geeraerts, Grondelaers & Speelman 1999), which compares the words that speakers of different language varieties use for a wide range of concepts. Further, language attitudes will be measured by attitudinal scales, and familiarity by questionnaires.

Representative publications

The following publications are representative of Leen's research. The rest of her published work can be found in the QLVL publication list.

Impe, L. 2006. "Een attitudineel mixed-guise onderzoek naar tussentaal in Vlaanderen" [An attitudinal mixed-guise study on interlanguage in Flanders]. Unpublished MA dissertation, University of Leuven.