PhD Project 27

Alignment in Dialogue at the Phonological, Syntactic and Semantic Levels

PIs: Mirjam Ernestus (CLS) and Herbert Schriefers (DCC)
PhD-candidate: Lotte Eijk
Start date: November 01, 2017

(last update 2019-07-01)

Research Content

During conversation speakers align. Apart from conceptual pacts, speakers also align on linguistic levels such as the phonological, syntactic, semantic and lexical level. The findings about the mechanisms behind the different levels of alignment are not clear. Some studies show alignment is a listener driven process, whereas others show it is speaker driven. Others even suggest it is a combination of the two different processes. This project aims to investigate the mechanisms underlying alignment in dialogue and to find out, amongst others, how different linguistic levels of alignment influence each other.

Progress 2018

All pilots (behavioural and fMRI) for the corpus experiment have been run collaboratively. Data collection for the main experiment has recently started.  Next to collection of the data for the corpus experiment, data is still being collected for the other experiment looking into alignment and possible long-lasting knowledge of speakers about their interlocutors’ speech behaviour. This data collection is close to being finished.  A subset of the data collected for the second experiment has been analysed for pitch and articulation rate alignment.

Groundbreaking characteristics

In collaboration with other BQ3 projects, this project will acquire a comprehensive record of speech, hand/head-gestures, and gaze in pairs of interlocutors engaged in the interactive production and comprehension of utterances evoked during semi-spontaneous dialogue. Patterns of alignment will be analysed at different linguistic levels, including phonetics, syntax, and semantics. This approach will make it possible to understand the interaction of different linguistic levels during alignment, considering both the direction and extent of the alignment and how the alignment develops over time.