Do you what I say? People reconstruct the syntax of anomalous utterances

Iva Ivanova, Holly Branigan, Janet McLean, Albert Costa, Martin Pickering

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We frequently experience and successfully process anomalous utterances. Here we examine whether people do this by “correcting” syntactic anomalies to yield well-formed representations. In two structural priming experiments, participants’ syntactic choices in picture description were influenced as strongly by previously comprehended anomalous (missing-verb) prime sentences as by well-formed prime sentences. Our results suggest that comprehenders can reconstruct the constituent structure of anomalous utterances – even when such utterances lack a major structural component such as the verb. These results also imply that structural alignment in dialogue is unaffected if one interlocutor produces anomalous utterances.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-189
JournalLanguage, Cognition and Neuroscience
Issue number2
Early online date28 Oct 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Oct 2016

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