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Planning ahead: How recent experience with structures and words changes the scope of linguistic planning


Konopka,  Agnieszka E.
Individual Differences in Language Processing Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign;

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Konopka, A. E. (2012). Planning ahead: How recent experience with structures and words changes the scope of linguistic planning. Journal of Memory and Language, 66, 143-162. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2011.08.003.

The scope of linguistic planning, i.e., the amount of linguistic information that speakers prepare in advance for an utterance they are about to produce, is highly variable. Distinguishing between possible sources of this variability provides a way to discriminate between production accounts that assume structurally incremental and lexically incremental sentence planning. Two picture-naming experiments evaluated changes in speakers’ planning scope as a function of experience with message structure, sentence structure, and lexical items. On target trials participants produced sentences beginning with two semantically related or unrelated objects in the same complex noun phrase. To manipulate familiarity with sentence structure, target displays were preceded by prime displays that elicited the same or different sentence structures. To manipulate ease of lexical retrieval, target sentences began either with the higher-frequency or lower-frequency member of each semantic pair. The results show that repetition of sentence structure can extend speakers’ scope of planning from one to two words in a complex noun phrase, as indexed by the presence of semantic interference in structurally primed sentences beginning with easily retrievable words. Changes in planning scope tied to experience with phrasal structures favor production accounts assuming structural planning in early sentence formulation.