Linguistic Adaptation in Semi-natural Dialogues: Age Comparison

  • Marie Nilsenová
  • Palesa Nolting
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 6231)


Speaker adaptation in dialogues appears to support not only dialogue coordination, but also language processing, learning and in/out-group manifestation. Presumably, speakers in various stages of their language development might exploit different functions and types of adaptation, but conclusive research in this area has so far been lacking. In the present study, we compare structural, lexical and prosodic adaptation in a semi-natural dialogue across two age groups, in adult-child and adult-adult dyads. The results of our experiments indicate that children take over the structural and lexical forms used by their dialogue partner more frequently than adults. Children also adapt to the pitch of the speaker they interact with more than adult participants. Irrespective of age, we found longer onset latencies following the experimenter’s question if the question had a non-canonical (declarative) form compared to a question with a canonical (interrogative) form. This can be seen as a manifestation of a processing advantage typically associated with the long-term effects of adaptation-as-learning.


adaptation alignment entrainment prosody boost effects 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Garrod, S., Anderson, A.: Saying What You Mean in Dialogue: A Study in Conceptual and Semantic Coordination. Cognition 27, 181–218 (1987)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Metzing, C., Brennan, S.E.: When Conceptual Pacts Are Broken: Partner-Specific Effects on the Comprehension of Referring Expressions. Journal of Memory and Language 49, 237–246 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Garrod, S., Doherty, G.: Conversation, Co-Ordination, and Convention: An Empirical Investigation of How Groups Establish Linguistic Conventions. Cognition 53, 181–215 (1994)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Branigan, H.P., Pickering, M.J., Pearson, J., McLean, J.F.: Linguistic Alignment Between People and Computers. Journal of Pragmatics (2008)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Levelt, W.J.M., Kelter, S.: Surface Form and Memory in Question Answering. Cognitive Psychology 14, 78–106 (1982)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bock, K.: SyntactIC Persistence in Language Production. Cognitive Psychology 18, 355–387 (1986)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Pickering, M.J., Branigan, H.P.: Syntactic Priming in Language Production. Trends in Cognitive Science 3, 136–141 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Gries, S.T.: Syntactic Priming: A Corpus-Based Approach. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research 34, 365–399 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Liberman, P.: Intonation, Perception, and Language. The MIT Press, Cambridge (1967)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Nilsenová, M., Swerts, M.G.J., Houtepen, V., Dittrich, H.: Pitch Adaptation in Different Age Groups: Boundary Tones versus Global Pitch. In: Proceedings of Interspeech, Brighton, September 6-10 (2009)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Natale, M.: Converge of Mean Vocal Intensity in Dyadic Communication as a Function of Social Desirability. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 32, 790–804 (1975)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Gregory, S.W., Hoyt, B.R.: Conversation Partner Mutual Adaptation as Demonstrated by Fourier Series Analysis. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research 11, 35–46 (1982)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Giles, H., Coupland, N., Coupland, J.: Accommodation Theory: Communication, Context, and Consequence. In: Giles, H., Coupland, J., Coupland, N. (eds.) Contexts of Accommodation, pp. 1–68 (1991)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Gregory, S.W., Gallagher, T.J.: Spectral Analysis of Candidates’ Nonverbal Communication: Predicting U.S. Presidential Election Outcomes. Social Psychology Quarterly 49, 237–246 (2002)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Pardo, J.S.: On Phonetic Convergence during Conversational Interaction. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 119, 2382–2393 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Delvaux, V., Soquet, A.: The Influence of Ambient Speech on Adult Speech Productions through Unintentional Imitation. Phonetica 64, 145–173 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Goldinger, S.D.: Perception and Production in an Episodic Lexicon. In: Johnson, K., Mullennix, J. (eds.) Talker Variability in Speech Processing, pp. 33–66. Academic Press, San Diego (1997)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Goldinger, S.D.: Echoes of Echoes? An Episodic Theory of Lexical Access. Psychological Review 105, 251–279 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Goldinger, S.D., Azuma, T.: Puzzle-Solving Science: the Quixotic Quest for Units in Speech Perception. Journal of Phonetics 31, 305–320 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Namy, L.L., Nygaard, L.C., Sauterberg, D.: Gender Differences in Vocal Accommodation: the Role of Perception. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 21, 422–432 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Babel, M.E.: Phonetic and Social Selectivity in Speech Accommodation. Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley (2009)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Nilsenová, M., van Amelsvoort, M.A.A.: Syntactic Boost Effects on Phonological Priming in Dutch. Ms., University of Tilburg (2010)Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Branigan, H.P., Pickering, M.J., Cleland, A.A.: Syntactic Coordination in Dialogue. Cognition 75, B13–B25 (2007)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Hartsuiker, R.J., Bernolet, S., Schoonbaert, S., Speybroeck, S., Vanderelst, D.: Syntactic Priming Persists while the Lexical Boost Decays: Evidence from Written and Spoken Dialogue. Journal of Memory and Language 58, 214–238 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Pickering, M., Garrod, S.: Toward a Mechanistic Psychology of Dialogue. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27, 169–226 (2004)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marie Nilsenová
    • 1
  • Palesa Nolting
    • 1
  1. 1.Tilburg Centre for Cognition and CommunicationTilburgThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations