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2005-02-25 - Colloque/Abstract - Anglais - 1 page(s)

Delvaux Véronique , Demolin D., Harmegnies Bernard , Soquet A., "Mimetic interactions between speakers as a vehicle for sound change" in 100 ans de Phonétique Expérimentale, 18, Grenoble, France

  • Codes CREF : Phonétique (DI5312), Linguistique appliquée (DI5323)
  • Unités de recherche UMONS : Métrologie et Sciences du langage (P362)
  • Instituts UMONS : Institut de recherche en sciences et technologies du langage (Langage)

Abstract(s) :

(Anglais) Through the years, John Ohala developed one of the most influential account of sound change (1981, 1986, 2003). Among other things, Ohala proposes that sound change is initiated when the listeners (mis)perceive the acoustic information provided by the speakers. Following Ohala, we think it essential to consider sound change within the global act of communication, which includes multiple interactions between participants who are alternately speakers and listeners. In this study, we try to identify some of the mechanisms involved in the propagation of sound changes within a speech community. Our main hypothesis is that sound systems result from mimetic interactions between individuals. Mimesis is defined as a supramodal, motor-modeling skill which creates representations that are retrievable from memory (Donald, 1991). In the context of phonology, mimesis is considered as the competence to develop and amplify phonetic variation based on imitation. The experiment reported here is an attempt to implement sound change in the laboratory by provoking modifications in the phonetic realizations of French speakers who are exposed to recorded speakers from another dialect. The task is to name ideograms when prompted by a computer (Delvaux et al. 2004). Results show that the speakers’ productions get closer to the productions they are exposed to, although the instructions are not to imitate or even to listen to the recorded speakers. Moreover, part of the imitative change is maintained when the speakers are no longer exposed to the other dialect. Based on these results, we claim that mimetic behavior may allow for the automatic and constant update of phonetic representations. References Delvaux, V., Demolin, D., Soquet, A. 2004. Interactions mimétiques entre locuteurs : une étude expérimentale. XXVèmes Journées d’étude sur la parole, Fès, 153-156. Donald, M. 1991. Origins of the Modern Mind: three stages in the evolution of culture and cognition, Harvard University Press, Cambridge. Ohala, J.J. 1981. The listener as a source of sound change, Papers from a Parasession on Language and Behavior, Chicago Linguistics Society, 178-203. Ohala, J.J. 1986. Phonological evidence for top-down processing in speech perception. Invariance and variability in speech processes, J.S. Perkell et D.H. Klatt (eds), Hillsdale, Erlbaum, 386-397. Ohala, J.J. 2003. Phonetics and historical phonology. In B.D. Joseph & R.D. Janda (eds), The Handbook of Historical Linguistics, Oxford, Blackwell.