Speaking in dialects: How dialect words are represented and selected for production

Eleanor Heggdal lønes, Yuki Kamide, Alissa Melinger (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


In the current review, we explore the processes and representations that underpin dialectal word production. Most monolingual speakers have a diverse set of repertoires at their disposal, including dialectal and register variants, that they may deploy in the appropriate social context. This linguistic flexibility must be supported by processes that allow speakers to tailor their utterances not only to convey the semantic content of their message but the social and pragmatic content as well. Despite the ubiquitousness of these different repertoires in everyday language use, very little research has been undertaken to understand how multiple linguistic varieties are represented, organized and ultimately produced by “monolingual” speakers.

In this article, we provide an overview of the extant literature and theories on dialect-level language processing, considering dialectal language production across multiple levels of representation with a particular focus on word production. The review covers a number of psycholinguistic methodologies including picture-word interference and language-switching paradigms, as well as sociolinguistic observations such as dialect leveling and style shifting. We discuss both monolingual and bilingual models of word production with the aim of determining whether bidialectalism should rightly be seen as a special case of bilingualism, or whether this conceptualization is inaccurate. We also review evidence regarding strategic and automatic dialectal alignment processes. We conclude the review by proposing a new model of bidialectal production based on our findings and we suggest how to fill the gaps identified in the existing literature and theory.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSpeaking, Writing and Communicating
EditorsKara D. Federmeier, Jessica L. Montag
PublisherAcademic Press
Number of pages41
ISBN (Print)9780443134098
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Apr 2023

Publication series

NamePsychology of Learning and Motivation
ISSN (Print)0079-7421


  • Alignment
  • Bidialectalism
  • Language control
  • Lexical organization
  • Word production

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Psychology


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