Jevon Heath: Causes and consequences of convergence

January 20, 2017 (All day)


In speech convergence, people's speech becomes more like the speech they hear. Such convergence behavior has been observed along many domains of linguistic structure and in many different situational contexts. Convergence has been argued to be socially motivated (Communication Accommodation Theory – Giles et al. 1991), and also to be an unconscious, resource-free process (Interactive Alignment Theory – Pickering & Garrod 2004). In this talk, I will argue that convergence is not a discrete process in itself; rather, convergence behavior is the consequence of episodic storage and recall, moderated by attention. I will discuss experimental results suggesting that working memory capacity has a limiting effect on convergence behavior, and that individuals evince similar patterns of convergence behavior across levels of linguistic structure. I will conclude with a discussion of ramifications for this understanding of convergence behavior on models of language change.