Phonetic convergence of Hong Kong English towards native English accents and the effect of language attitudes

The interactive-alignment model (Pickering & Garrod 2004) suggests that convergence is an automatic process in a conversation and it occurs not only at phonetic level but also at syntactic and pragmatic levels. Evidence of convergence at phonetic level was found in a few studies (Babel 2010, 2012; Pardo 2006; Pardo, Gibbons, Suppes & Krauss 2012), however, these studies mainly focused on native speakers, convergence between non-native speakers and native speakers received less attention. Present study aims to examine Hong Kong English (HKE) speakers’ speech accommodation towards Received Pronunciation (RP) and General American English (GenAmE) during and after 1 hour’s conversation with an RP/GenAmE interlocutor.

The presentation will focus on the HKE speakers’ convergence on two vowels (THOUGHT and PATH vowel) and three consonants (rhoticity, fricative /z/ and fricative /θ/) in the two exposure conditions. The effect of language attitudes in convergence will be reported too. Exemplar-based theories are adopted to explain convergence; however, the accounts do not seem to explain the divergence found in the present study.


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