Convergence through divergence: compensatory changes in phonetic accommodation

Jevon Heath


In phonetic accommodation, talkers talk differently based on their interlocutors' speech. This is generally convergence, but simultaneous convergence along incompatible dimensions is not always possible. In the current study, I found that when exposed to artificially extended VOT, speakers shortened their stop closures, in divergence from the model talker. I interpret these adjustments as compensatory changes resulting from individual learned patterns of articulation. Individual differences in the phonetic features adjusted in accommodation may reflect constraints on the potential pathways of sound change. Additionally, accommodation studies must take multiple dimensions of phonetic similarity into account in assessing how much accommodation occurs.

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