We are very happy to announce the next talk in our phonology colloquium this term. Christiane Ulbrich (U Konstanz) will talk about “Speech accommodation in L2”

The talk will take place online, on Zoom.

Please register beforehand (Kuegler@em.uni-frankfurt.de) to receive the access data to zoom!

Christine Ulbrich:
Title: Speech accommodation in L2
Time: 09. December 2020, 4 pm ct

In this talk, I am presenting the results of a series of experiments on speech accommodation to address two issues.
(i) Even though research has dealt with such accommodation effects since the 1970s, the mechanisms behind the process(es) are still not very well understood. Some believe that accommodation is a dynamic process that speakers strategically apply to gain social approval and to attain communicational efficiency. Others proposes accommodation to be largely automatic. The question is how these two mechanisms can be observed in non-native speech. In other words, provided that a desire of non-native speakers to archive a high level of intelligibility can be assumed, does insufficient proficiency impedes the application of accommodation strategies to affiliate with native speakers of their L2 and for automatisms to kick in? To answer this question, I am presenting the results of the analysis of production data obtained from twelve female native Spanish learners of L2 German recorded during a collaborative map-task. Accommodation effects were found on both the phonological and the phonetic level, namely in the neutralisation of voicing contrast in final plosives, in /r/ realisations in prevocalic position, in pitch range in accented syllables, and in articulation rate. The effects were found to depend on the proficiency level of the learner and the interlocutor.
(ii) Another controversy deals with the question whether accommodation differs between phonological contrastive characteristics and gradient phonetic acoustic detail. To approach this issue, production data also obtained in a collaborative map task were analysed. Belfast English and Northern Standard German select two different intonation patterns for nuclear pitch accents in declarative utterances. The experiment compared the production of phonologically different pitch accents in declarative utterances and gradient acoustic characteristics of pitch range in utterance-final position and peak alignment in nuclear pitch accents. Evidence was found for accommodation for all three prosodic phenomena. However, the accommodation patterns were not synchronous in the Belfast English and the Northern Standard German group of speakers. Furthermore, both phonological contrastive characteristics and gradient phonetic acoustic detail appeared to be influenced by factors of cognitive entrenchment, functional load, perceptual salience and familiarity.