The contagiousness of accents

Tonight while out to dinner with my grandparents we ran into one of their neighbors who I met for the first time at the dinner last night. Upon first meeting her I realized she had an accent but I couldn’t quite place it. So tonight we asked her if she was from Ohio and she said that she’s originally from Georgia. Then she started talking about how when she goes back to the South to visit, after a few days her accent returns. She commented that accents are contagious and that got me thinking. I realized that I have a tendency to imitate accents without even thinking about it. So maybe it’s just a natural process, to pick up an accent simply by being around others speaking with such an accent. Is there a name for this phenomenon? Is there a science to it that can explain why it happens? I find it incredibly interesting and would love to do some more research on it.

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