The effect of anomalous utterances on language production
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.3758/s13421-016-0654-3
Speakers sometimes encounter utterances that have anomalous linguistic features. Are such features registered during comprehension and transferred to speakers' production systems? In two experiments, we explored these questions. In a syntactic-priming paradigm, speakers heard prime sentences with novel or intransitive verbs as part of prepositional-dative or double-object structures (e.g., The chef munded the cup to the burglar or The doctor existed the pirate the balloon). Speakers then described target pictures eliciting the same structures, using the same or different novel or intransitive verbs. Speakers overall described targets with the same structures as the primes (abstract syntactic priming), but more so when the primes and targets had the same novel or intransitive verbs (a lexical boost), an effect that was only observed when the novel words served as the verbs in both the prime and target sentences. Such a lexical boost could only manifest if speakers formed associations between the verbs and structures in the primes during comprehension, and if these associations were then transferred to their production systems. We thus showed that anomalous utterance features are not ignored but persist (at least) in speakers' immediately subsequent production.