Saying the right word at the right time: Syntagmatic and paradigmatic interference in sentence production

Gary S. Dell, Gary M. Oppenheim, Audrey K. Kittredge
2008 Language and Cognitive Processes  
Retrieving a word in a sentence requires speakers to overcome syntagmatic, as well as paradigmatic interference. When accessing cat in 'The cat chased the string', not only are similar competitors such as dog and cap activated, but also other words in the planned sentence, such as chase and string. We hypothesise that both types of interference impact the same stage of lexical access, and review connectionist models of production that use an error-driven learning algorithm to overcome that
more » ... ference. This learning algorithm creates a mechanism that limits syntagmatic interference, the syntactic 'traffic cop', a configuration of excitatory and inhibitory connections from syntactic-sequential states to lexical units. We relate the models to word and sentence production data, from both normal and aphasic speakers. The last 20 years has seen an explosion of research on language production. Seminal experiments, such as Schriefers, Meyer, and Levelt's (1990) application of the picture-word interference paradigm to the time course of lexical access, have inspired hundreds of studies in this area. At the same time, investigations of impaired production have increasingly adopted a psycholinguistic (rather than linguistic or clinical) perspective, with the result that theories are now constrained by neuropsychological data, as well as experimental findings from unimpaired speakers (see e.g.
doi:10.1080/01690960801920735 pmid:20622975 pmcid:PMC2901119 fatcat:wnu6zqfg6ffd3lxtpvrgfmrjim