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Priming Word Order in Sentence Production

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When producing a sentence, the speaker needs to place words in linear order. We hypothesized the existence of a linearization process, which imposes order on a constituent structure. This structure is assumed to be specified with respect to hierarchial relations between constituents but not with respect to word order. We tested this hypothesis in a primed picture description experiment. Speakers of Dutch repeated prime sentences and described target pictures. Word order of prime sentences was manipulated (e.g. ''On the table is a ball'' vs. ''A ball is on the table''). Both alternatives could be used in the description of unrelated target pictures. In support of our hypothesis, word order was ''persistent'': Speakers were more likely to use a given word order, when the prime sentence had that same word order. We argue that our results support the notion of a linearization process and reject the alternative explanation that the results should be attributed to persistent selection of a fully specified syntactic frame.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 1999


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