Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 205–235 | Cite as

Revealing Word Order: Using Serial Position in Binomials to Predict Properties of the Speaker

  • Rumen Iliev
  • Anastasia Smirnova


Three studies test the link between word order in binomials and psychological and demographic characteristics of a speaker. While linguists have already suggested that psychological, cultural and societal factors are important in choosing word order in binomials, the vast majority of relevant research was focused on general factors and on broadly shared cultural conventions. In contrast, in this work we are interested in what word order can tell us about the particular speaker. More specifically, we test the degree to which word order is affected by factors such as gender, race, geographic location, religion, political orientation, and consumer preferences. Using a variety of methodologies and different data sources, we find converging evidence that word order is linked to a broad set of features associated with the speaker. We discuss the theoretical implications of these findings and the potential to use word order as a tool for analyzing large text corpora and data on the web.


Word order Binomials Subjective distance On-line data  Automated text analysis 



We are thankful to Doug Medin, Sonya Sachdeva, bethany ojalehto and Veronica Gerassimova for suggestions and comments on the paper. This work was supported by a DRMS Grant—NSF SES 0962185.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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