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Title: The syntactic representation and processing of nouns and verbs in language production
Author: Cleland, Alexandra Alice
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2002
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Most current theories of language production assume that there are a number of distinct stages intervening between the generation of a preverbal message and its articulation, with stages of linguistic processing at semantic, syntactic, lexical and word-form representations. It is commonly assumed that these processes are separate and driven by lexical entries; for example as in the lemma model of lexical access (e.g. Levelt et al., 1999). While there has been much research into the processes underlying the semantic and phonological components of production, there has been less empirical investigation of syntactic processes, and in particular the nature of the syntactic representations that underlie production. This thesis presents an empirical investigation into the nature of syntactic representations and processing, based on syntactic priming (Bock, 1986). It focuses on a number of specific issues: how syntactic formulation is affected by time constraints, whether syntactic representations are accessed in the same way for written and spoken production, and to what degree semantic and phonological factors can affect syntactic encoding. The finding that speakers have a tendency to reuse syntactic structure in consecutive utterances is replicated using a sentence completion task (Pickering & Branigan, 1998). In addition the research suggests that these processes can be altered when speakers are under time pressure. Further studies demonstrate that syntax is accessed in the same way for written and spoken production, consistent with an account where syntactic information is represented at a modality neutral level of representation. A dialogue task demonstrates that syntactic information is represented for nouns in a similar manner as for verbs, and that syntactic representations are likely to be shared between comprehension and production. In addition, further experiments show that semantic factors can influence syntactic encoding where phonological factors do not.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available