Follow my Language! Effect of Power Relations on Syntactic Alignment

AbstractCommunication accommodation is a phenomenon in social interactions in which people adjust their language to that of their interlocutor. A component of communication accommodation is research on power and dominance relations which suggests language use is dependent on power position. There are different linguistic markers which imply power standing of people. For example, when high power individuals interact with people in low power positions, the language of the interaction tends to follow the language of the high power individuals. While previous studies have mostly focused on the word-level features, we show that not only people in low power mirror word usage of people in high power, but they also adjust their syntactic structures to those in high power. Notably, we apply a computational tool on two corpora and show that individuals in low power align their syntactic structures to those in high power while people in high power do not.

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