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Laboratory Phonology

Journal of the Association for Laboratory Phonology

Ed. by Cole, Jennifer

IMPACT FACTOR 2015: 0.667
Rank 85 out of 179 in category Linguistics in the 2015 Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Report/Social Sciences Edition

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Phonetic convergence in spontaneous conversations as a function of interlocutor language distance

Midam Kim / William S. Horton / Ann R. Bradlow
Published Online: 2011-05-03 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/labphon.2011.004


This study explores phonetic convergence during conversations between pairs of talkers with varying language distance. Specifically, we examined conversations within two native English talkers and within two native Korean talkers who had either the same or different regional dialects, and between native and nonnative talkers of English. To measure phonetic convergence, an independent group of listeners judged the similarity of utterance samples from each talker through an XAB perception test, in which X was a sample of one talker's speech and A and B were samples from the other talker at either early or late portions of the conversation. The results showed greater convergence for same-dialect pairs than for either the different-dialect pairs or the different-L1 pairs. These results generally support the hypothesis that there is a relationship between phonetic convergence and interlocutor language distance. We interpret this pattern as suggesting that phonetic convergence between talker pairs that vary in the degree of their initial language alignment may be dynamically mediated by two parallel mechanisms: the need for intelligibility and the extra demands of nonnative speech production and perception.

About the article

Published Online: 2011-05-03

Published in Print: 2011-05-01

Citation Information: Laboratory Phonology, Volume 2, Issue 1, Pages 125–156, ISSN (Online) 1868-6354, ISSN (Print) 1868-6346, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/labphon.2011.004.

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© 2011 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/New York.Get Permission

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