Convergence Doesn't Show Lexically-Specific Phonetic Detail

Chelsea Sanker


Can phonetic convergence be lexically specific, providing evidence that representations include word-specific phonetic detail, or does it occur only at a phonological level? Some studies find more convergence in lower frequency words, which is interpreted as evidence for word-specific representations. However, this result has not been consistently replicated, and provides only indirect evidence for word-specific convergence. I more directly test the possibility of word-specific convergence in a shadowing task with different words manipulated in opposing directions; word-specific acoustic details are reflected in immediate repetition, but not in the post-task productions that would indicate shifts in the representation. I also examine a possible alternative source of apparent frequency-conditioned convergence. In a reading task with no exposure to other speakers, frequency was a predictor of speakers becoming more similar to each other in their second reading of a word; because effects of repetition are influenced by lexical frequency, apparent frequency-conditioned convergence can be produced as an artifact of the repetition inherent in shadowing tasks.


Phonetic Convergence; Word-Specific Phonetic Detail; Repetition Effects

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