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University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics

Abstract

A long research line in quantitative sociolinguistics has been aimed at understanding how persistence, the tendency for people to repeat a linguistic variant they have just used, influences language variation and change. Previous studies have variously attributed variant repetitiveness to priming in the psycholinguistic sense, socially-motivated style-shifting, or interspeaker accommodation, implying that intraspeaker persistence and interspeaker convergence are potentially different phenomena. This study reports both interspeaker convergence and intraspeaker persistence in a morphological variable that has been recently documented in the Chengdu dialect of Mandarin, a variety which is subject to language contact with standard Mandarin. We compare the relationship between repetitiveness within and across speakers. Results from mixed-effect logistic regression show that there is a persistence effect within speakers and a convergence effect across speakers; however the size of the effect varies according to different meaning contexts. Findings further shed light on the understanding of language change from psycholinguistic perspectives.

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