Factors Involved in Limited Convergence in (ING) Variation

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University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics
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Horwitz, Sarah

As a well-documented variable that exhibits stable variation, (ING) (e.g. workin’ ~ working; Tamminga 2014) provides fertile ground for exploring the influences of social and cognitive factors in speech. In this study, we use (ING) to probe cross-speaker effects between an interviewer and an interviewee during a sociolinguistic interview. Our analyses are grounded in two theoretical explanations of cross-speaker behavior: (1) socially-mediated convergence, which describes how speakers will converge to or diverge from the speech of their interlocutor during an interaction (Giles & Ogay 2007); and (2) repetition priming, whereby speakers will repeat recently heard variants as they speak (Pardo 2013; Tamminga 2014, 2019). Our data come from 122 speakers of the Philadelphia Neighborhood Corpus (Labov & Rosenfelder 2011). We predict that our speakers will have higher mean [ɪŋ] rates immediately following instances of interviewer [ɪŋ], relative to their baseline mean [ɪŋ] rates, consistent with the effects of both convergence and priming. However, we find that interviewer [ɪŋ] primes have a null effect on speaker mean [ɪŋ] rate. While a linear regression reveals that female speakers use more [ɪŋ] relative to male speakers, we do not find significant evidence of cross-speaker convergence or priming. These results are surprising, and do not align with previous findings that attest to a strong repetition effect in speech production within individual speakers (Tamminga 2014). We suggest that cross-speaker convergence is different from such intraspeaker persistence, yet additional research with more data is needed before any conclusions can be drawn.

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