Lexical alignment in second language communication: evidence from a picture-naming task

Di Zhang, Janet Nicol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Language alignment occurs when interlocutors mimic each other’s language. Language alignment can happen as a result of priming, but may also be mediated by speakers’ beliefs about their interlocutor, including how language-proficient they believe the interlocutor to be. However, it is unknown whether bilingual speakers also show such effects. In this study, the participant and interlocutor took turns labelling pictured objects. These had alternative labels—one preferred, one dispreferred–with the latter used by the interlocutor. Participants were native Mandarin speakers who rated themselves as higher- or lower-intermediate L2 English learners. They were told their interlocutor was either a native English speaker, or another L2 English-learner. In a series of three experiments, the results showed that participants aligned with the interlocutor by using the dispreferred label. Rates of alignment varied, depending on the perceived proficiency of the interlocutor, and to a lesser extent, the L2 speaker’ self-rated proficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)732-749
Number of pages18
JournalLanguage, Cognition and Neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2022


  • L2 learners
  • L2 lexical alignment
  • L2 proficiency
  • Unmediated alignment
  • mediated alignment
  • second language production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Lexical alignment in second language communication: evidence from a picture-naming task'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this