Speech convergence among talkative and reticent three year-olds Academic Article uri icon


  • The purpose of this study is to examine speech convergence as a primitive form of socialized speech. Specifically, we examine (1) the extent of speech pattern matching by three year-old children, and (2) whether a talkativeness/reticence factor influenced degree of convergence. Four three-year-old girls individually interacted with 6 to 8 previously unfamiliar adults in free-play settings. From video recordings and verbatim transcripts, the degree of children's convergence to adult speech (i.e., moves toward similarity) is assessed on dimensions of speech rate, response latency, utterance length, and number of utterances. Three conclusions are drawn from the results. First, at age 3, speech convergence on these behaviors is evident, though the convergence mechanism is still relatively unstable. Second, only one reticent child consistently performed below the level of the talkative children. Third, adults tend to compensate for a child's lack of conversational activity by talking more to maintain the flow of interaction. 1983.

published proceedings

  • Language Sciences

author list (cited authors)

  • Street, R. L., Street, N. J., & Van Kleek, A.

citation count

  • 15

complete list of authors

  • Street, Richard L||Street, Nancy James||Van Kleek, Anne

publication date

  • January 1983