Lacey Wade is pleased to announce that she will be defending her dissertation entitled "The Linguistic and the Social Intertwined: Linguistic Convergence Toward Southern Speech" on Thursday, April 23 at 2pm. The defense is open to the public and will be held on Zoom. Details and abstract are below.
Title: The Linguistic and the Social Intertwined: Linguistic Convergence Toward Southern Speech
Supervisor: Meredith Tamminga
Committee: David Embick, Gareth Roberts
Date: Thursday, April 23
Time: 2pm Eastern Time
Abstract: The dissertation examines the relationship between social and linguistic knowledge using a series of experiments eliciting linguistic convergence to Southern speech. I draw a terminological distinction between previously observed input-driven convergence, in which speakers converge toward a linguistic form directly observed in the input, and expectation-driven convergence (EDC), in which speakers converge toward a linguistic form they only expect but do not observe in the immediate input. Using a novel Word Naming Game paradigm, the dissertation first finds experimental evidence for EDC, which had previously only been anecdotally observed; participants converge toward glide-weakened /ay/, a salient feature of Southern English, which they may expect but never directly observe from a Southern-accented model talker. The existence of EDC suggests that accounts of convergence relying on tight perception-production feedback loops where production is directly derived from the input cannot straightforwardly explain all instances of convergence. The remainder of the dissertation focuses on understanding what makes EDC possible including the cognitive mechanisms underlying this behavior and the role of sociolinguistic experience. I demonstrate that both top-down information about social categories and bottom-up acoustic cues independently contribute to expectation-driven shifts in production and perception. Further, reliance on these cues differs across dialect backgrounds, providing insights into the way sociolinguistic associations are formed and mentally represented.