Effects of dialect-specific features and familiarity on cross-dialect phonetic convergence

Jory Ross, Kevin D. Lilley, Cynthia G. Clopper, Jennifer S. Pardo, Susannah V. Levi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Talkers imitate the speech of others through phonetic convergence. The current study examined the influence of dialect-specific features and dialect familiarity on the extent and perceptibility of phonetic convergence. Talkers with Mid-Atlantic and General American dialects repeated words after model talkers with Mid-Atlantic and General American dialects in a shadowing task. Half of the target words contained phonetic variables differing between the two dialects, including /ɔ/, /æɹ/, and word-initial /stɹ/, and half contained no distinguishing dialect features. In an AXB task, listeners from the Mid-Atlantic region with greater exposure to the Mid-Atlantic dialect and listeners from the Midwestern United States with less exposure to the Mid-Atlantic dialect assessed the perceptual similarity of the two shadowing productions to the original productions of the model talkers. Together, acoustic analyses of the shadowing productions and the results of the AXB task revealed that dialect-specific features facilitated phonetic convergence. This facilitation was stronger for Mid-Atlantic shadowers and model talkers, suggesting that dialect familiarity increases the magnitude of convergence in speech production. However, no differences were observed between listener groups, indicating that greater experience with a dialect may not affect the perception of phonetic convergence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101041
JournalJournal of Phonetics
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Accommodation
  • General American English
  • Mid-Atlantic English
  • Perceptual similarity
  • Phonetic convergence
  • Production-perception interface

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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