Phonetic manifestations of communication accommodation in dialogue

2021. №2, 123-141

Tatiana V. Kachkovskaia @
Anna D. Mamushina
Saint Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia;


The paper presents a review of research on communication accommodation (also termed entrainment) — “attuning” between interlocutors over the course of interaction. In speech such “attuning” is found at all levels, including the phonetic level, which is the focus of this survey. The paper discusses two main theoretical approaches to communication accommodation: the phenomenon is considered either an automatic or a socially mediated process. Three accommodation strategies — convergence, divergence, and maintenance — are then described. The next section considers methods employed in research on speech accommodation: metrics of accommodation and speech data used in experiments. The body of the paper provides the experimental results reported by the leading research groups. Among the phonetic parameters frequently analysed for accommodation — fundamental frequency, speaking rate, intensity — intensity shows the highest consistency in exhibiting accommodation. As for other features, it is still difficult to obtain a clear picture as the studies vary in their choice of methods and material, while the results are often controversial. Thus, the need for further research on the issue is apparent. The paper also discusses the importance of accommodation in interpersonal communication, its interplay with various social factors (gender, role in dialogue, hierarchy, etc.) and social assessments. The role of accommodation in human-computer interaction is demonstrated as well.

For citation:

Kachkovskaia T. V., Mamushina A. D. Phonetic manifestations of communication accommodation in dialogue. Voprosy Jazykoznanija, 2021, 2: 123–141.


The research is supported by Russian Science Foundation (project No. 19-78-10046).