When you talk to someone, you start talking like them

Friday 14 April 2023, 10:30 am
L.D. Eijk MA
prof. dr. M.T.C. Ernestus, prof. dr. H.J. Schriefers
Faculty of Arts

When people talk to each other, their speech becomes increasingly similar. This happens at different levels, for example in their use of words. For example, if one speaker uses the word ‘chips’ while the other says ‘fries’, there is a good chance that one of the two will switch to using the other’s word. Speakers can also adapt to one another in other ways, for example by using a different word order more often, adjusting their speaking speed, or by pronouncing sounds in a different way. This PhD thesis aims to contribute to our knowledge of how exactly speakers adapt to each other. 
It shows that these adjustments are highly complex. Adjustments with respect to word order, for example, function differently from adjustments to sounds, such as the hard versus soft ‘g’ in Dutch. Adjustments to the speed of someone’s speech or pitch in turn work differently than the adjustments listed above. Add to this the fact that there is also great variation between speakers. The PhD thesis presents two new datasets for further research. In short, it provides new information on speaker adaptation and shows that the evidence for it is highly variable. 

Lotte Eijk (1995) obtained her Master’s degree in Language and Speech Pathology and French Linguistics cum laude in 2017. She conducted the research for her Master’s thesis in Language and Speech Pathology at the New Zealand Institute of Language, Brain and Behaviour (NZILBB) in Christchurch, New Zealand. After completing her Master’s degree, she started a PhD within the Language in Interaction consortium at the Radboud University Centre for Language Studies, while also lecturing at Leiden University. She is currently working as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of York in England.