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Lecture 15

COM 350 Lecture Notes - Lecture 15: Communication Accommodation Theory, Code-Switching, Unimodality


Department
Communication
Course Code
COM 350
Professor
Marko Dragojevic
Lecture
15

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COM350: Lecture Notes Communication Adjustment
Communication Accommodation Theory (Giles, 1973)
o Explains & predicts how, when, and why people adjust their communicative behaviors during social
interaction, and what social consequences result from those adjustments
Accommodation: communicative adjustment
o We speak differently in different situations
Adjust for the person we are speaking to
Children vs. adults
Adjust for the situation we are in
Boss vs. family members
o C
an occur on many dimensions, including language, dialect, accent, speech rate (speak slower
to old people and younger kids), pitch, nonverbals (smiling, gaze), conversational topic, etc.
o
Sometimes takes the form of code-switching, or using two or more language varieties in the
same conversation
Three types of adjustment
o
Convergence: adjusting one’s communicative behavior to become more similar to another’s
(accentuating similarities)
Example: Southern-accented speaker makes her accent sound more standard when
speaking with her standard-accented boss
o
Divergence: adjusting one’s communicative behavior to become more dissimilar to another’s
(accentuating differences)
Example: Southern-accented speaker makes her Southern accent even more
pronounced when speaking with her standard-accented boss
o
Maintenance: maintaining one’s “default” way of communicating (no adjustments)
Example:
Southern-accented speakers maintains her usual Southern accent when speaking
with her standard-accented boss
Convergence and divergence can both take multiple forms:
o
Upward/downward: refers to adjustment that has some social value
Upward: adopting a more prestigious form
Examples
o ASE=American Southern English
o SAE=Standard American English
o Convergence: ASE speaker adopts SAE in presence of SAE speaker
o Divergence: ASE speaker adopts SAE in presence of ASE speaker
Downward: adopting a less prestigious form
Examples
o Convergence: SAE speaker adopts ASE in presence of ASE speaker
o Divergence: SAE speaker adopts ASE in presence of SAE speaker
Does not depend on social status of conversational partner: converging to one’s boss is not
necessarily upward convergence
o
Full/partial: refers to the degree of adjustment
Partial: partially converge to (or diverge from) partner’s style
Example: English speaker inserts some Spanish words into a conversation when
speaking with a Spanish speaker
Full: fully converge to (or diverge from) partner’s style
Example: English speaker fully switches to Spanish when speaking to a Spanish
speaker
o
Symmetrical/Asymmetrical: refers to whether or not one person’s adjustments are
reciprocated by the other
Symmetrical: mutual adjustment in the same direction (e.g., both people converge)
Asymmetrical: unilateral adjustment (e.g., one person converges, other maintains)
People often converge to those who have higher power and those who are in positions of
higher power typically do not reciprocate
o
Unimodal/Multimodal: refers to the number of dimensions people make adjustments on
Unimodal: adjustment on a single dimension (e.g., speech rate)
Multimodal: adjustment on multiple dimensions (e.g., speech rate and language
complexity)
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