Say it like me ! The effects of social categorisation and Prime-Target Noun similarity on Alignment
4th Year Honours Dissertation Benjamin Cowan.pdf (421.3Kb)
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Language is a socially focused activity. Dialogue between two interlocutors is the basis of most social interaction. In society, the majority of people are socially categorised and this social categorisation affects their behaviours. This exploratory study focuses on the question that if two people were in the same group would they align with each other more? Similarly if two people were in different social groups would they align less? We focus on the effect of social categorisation on the linguistic phenomenon of alignment. Alignment is when people speaking to each other are more likely to use the same grammatical and word order structures of the previous speaker. This study observes the alignment of serial adjective word order in naïve participant confederate interactions in collaborative communication task called the referential communication task. The naïve participant and confederate were also grouped using the dot estimation task to form either in-group out-group or neutral social dynamics. It was hypothesised that social categorisation would affect how much people aligned with the confederate in terms of the order of colour and pattern adjective placement when describing picture cards. This was not statistically supported (p>0.05). A significant result was however found for alignment of word order when group dynamics were not taken into consideration (p<0.05). Additionally the study also observes the effects that the same noun in both the prime and target phrases may have on the magnitude of alignment effect for serial adjective word order. It was hypothesised that using the same noun in prime-target pairs would increase the magnitude of alignment of word order in comparison to when the prime-target pair held different nouns. This claim was not supported (p>0.05). The implications and reasons for these results are discussed.