Rhythmic accommodation in a dialect contact situation. Acoustic and perception studies in Grison and Zurich German

Responsible: Elisa Pellegrino  
Duration of the project: Sept. 2018- Dec. 2020

Project Description:

This research aims at investigating whether speakers of two mutually intelligible Swiss German dialects - Grison German and Zurich German - which differ in terms of their segmental and suprasegmental characteristics converge rhythmically after being exposed to each other’s dialect. Cross-dialectal rhythmic accommodation is analyzed in a corpus of pre- and post-dialogue recordings (e.g. picture-prompted monologue, picture naming task) performed by 18 speakers of Grison and Zurich German (henceforth GR and ZH). To quantify rhythmic convergence, the distance between pairs of GR and ZH speakers will be compared before and after the dialogue across measures of segmental timing variability. Social, linguistic and conversational factors will be considered in the interpretation of degree and direction of cross-dialectal accommodation, and the contribution of rhythmic convergence to perceived phonetic convergence will be also extensively examined. Results of this project will advance the knowledge of which acoustic features of GR and ZH may play a role in dialectal levelling and diffusion of linguistic innovations. Project findings related to rhythmic convergence will also inform about which acoustic features aspects of human-human interaction have to be modelled in speech interactive systems to achieve human-likeness.

Publications (or conference presentation):

Pardo, J., Pellegrino, E., Dellwo, V. & Moebius, B. (accepted) Accommodation in Speech Communication, Special Issue in Journal of Phonetics.

Keywords (max 5): Phonetic Convergence, Dialects in contact,  Speech Rhythm, Speech Production and Perception

Funding source(s): University Research Priority Program Language and Space, University of Zurich

Partners: Dr. Hanna Ruch