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Title:Syntactic and Lexical Choices in Language Production: What We Can Learn From "That"
Author(s):Ferreira, Victor S.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Dell, Gary S.
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Language, Linguistics
Abstract:Speakers only sometimes include the "that" in sentences like "The coach knew (that) you missed practice." Six experiments tested the predictions concerning optional word mention of two general approaches to language production. One approach claims that language production processes choose syntactic structures that ease the task of creating sentences; specifically, syntactic structures are used that permit words to be spoken as they are retrieved from memory. The second approach claims that a syntactic structure is chosen that is easiest to comprehend; specifically, optional words like "that" are used to avoid producing ambiguous, difficult to comprehend sentences. In all six experiments, speakers did not consistently mention optional words when a sentence would otherwise be temporarily ambiguous, suggesting that speakers do not use optional words to disambiguate sentences. On the other hand, speakers did omit optional words when the subsequent material was either repeated (within a sentence) or prompted with a recall cue, suggesting that speakers choose syntactic structures that permit early mention of easily retrieved material. The results suggest that syntactic variations, though communicative, also equip the language production system with flexibility that eases the task of creating sentences.
Issue Date:1997
Description:116 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1997.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI9812585
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:1997

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