Natalie Lewandowski & Antje Schweitzer : Phonetic convergence in an L2 – automaticity and control

Natalie Lewandowski & Antje Schweitzer (University of Stuttgart, Institute for Natural)

Phonetic convergence in an L2 – automaticity and control

We present data from a study on phonetic convergence, the increase in similarity of two dialog partners‘ pronunciations. The nonnative participants (German L1, English L2) have been rated on their phonetic talent, mental flexibility and personality. Acoustic measurements revealed that the talented speakers adapted their pronunciation toward the native partners significantly more than the less talented learners. Higher mental flexibility, as measured by shorter RTs in an attention-redirection task, openness and agreeableness were also positively correlated with more convergence. Comparisons of several within-speaker productions from throughout the dialogs, however, showed that these “self-consistency“ measures were comparable for both talent groups. This might indicate at least an attempt to converge for all subjects, which was not successful for the less talented speakers. We propose a model of phonetic convergence, were automatic and more controllable factors influence the final success of phonetic adaptation, and possibly pronunciation learning in general.