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Making oneself predictable in linguistic interactions

Lelonkiewicz, Jaroslaw and Gambi, Chiara 2020. Making oneself predictable in linguistic interactions. Acta Psychologica 209 , 103125. 10.1016/j.actpsy.2020.103125
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While language production is a highly demanding task, conversational partners are known to coordinate their turns with striking precision. Among the mechanisms that allow them to do so is listeners’ ability to predict what the speaker will say, and thus to prepare their response in advance. But do speakers also play a role in facilitating coordination? We hypothesised that speakers contribute by using coordination smoothers – in particular by making their turns easier to predict. To test this, we asked participants to type definitions for common English words, either on their own (n = 26 individuals) or interacting with a partner (n = 18 pairs), and we measured the timing with which they produced the definitions. In a post-test, additional participants (n = 55) attempted to predict the final word of these definitions and rated them for quality. We found that interacting speakers initiated their turns with less variable delays than solo individuals. In contrast, our post-test measures suggested that jointly produced definitions were in fact of lower predictability and quality than those produced by individuals, but the analysis revealed these findings were likely confounded by task difficulty. We propose that the reduction in temporal variability observed for interacting speakers may facilitate prediction and thus act as a coordination smoother in linguistic interactions.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0001-6918
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 23 June 2020
Date of Acceptance: 17 June 2020
Last Modified: 26 Nov 2020 12:51

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