Conversation: How We Tune Our Violins

As part of the "researcher-journalist" exchange organized under the aegis of the Association of Scientific Journalists of the Information Press (AJSPI), the journalist Fabien Trécourt met in the spring of 2022 Noël Nguyen, professor AMU-LPL , and several other researchers from the LPL. These exchanges of several days gave rise to a beautiful article on linguistic convergence in the current issue of the magazine Sciences Humaines: “Conversation: how we tune our violins” (in French, n° 350 August/September 2022).

Article online (suscriber access):


Credits: Sciences Humaines / F. Trécourt

Do you choose your words depending on who you’re talking to (even when your partner is a robot)?

Giusy Cirillo (PhD student LPL/ILCB) has just published - as 1st author and in collaboration with other members of the LPL and Barcelona University - an article in the Cognition journal on inter-individual alignment in spoken communication.


Giusy Cirillo, Elin Runnqvist, Kristof Strijkers, Noël Nguyen, Cristina Baus. Conceptual alignment in a joint picture-naming task performed with a social robot. Cognition, Elsevier, 2022, 227, p. 105213. 10.1016/j.cognition.2022.105213

Fulltext article:


In this study we investigated whether people conceptually align when performing a language task together with a robot. In a joint picture-naming task, 24 French native speakers took turns with a robot in naming images of objects belonging to fifteen different semantic categories. For a subset of those semantic categories, the robot was programmed to produce the superordinate, semantic category name (e.g., fruit) instead of the more typical basic-level name associated with an object (e.g., pear). Importantly, while semantic categories were shared between the participant and the robot (e.g., fruits), different objects were assigned to each of them (e.g., the object of ‘a pear’ for the robot and of ‘an apple’ for the participant). Logistic regression models on participants' responses revealed that they aligned with the conceptual choices of the robot, producing over the course of the experiment more superordinate names (e.g., saying ‘fruit’ to the picture of an ‘apple’) for those objects belonging to the same semantic category as where the robot produced a superordinate name (e.g., saying ‘fruit’ to the picture of a ‘pear’). These results provide evidence for conceptual alignment affecting speakers' word choices as a result of adaptation to the partner, even when the partner is a robot.


Photo credits: Giusy Cirillo

Release of the last TIPA issue dedicated to convergence

We are pleased to announce the publication of the latest issue of TIPA: n ° 37 - 2021: "La convergence", coordinated by Sibylle Kriegel and Sophie Herment.

For this issue, a new editorial team has been set up to support the journal's developments.

We hope you enjoy reading it,

The TIPA editorial team