Lexical Search and Order of Mention in Sentence Production

  • Willem Levelt
  • Ben Maasen
Part of the Synthese Language Library book series (SLAP, volume 13)


In the process of speaking conceptual content is expressed in linguistic form. This requires the speaker to make a variety of conceptual as well as linguistic decisions, and it is still a mystery how these decisions interact in the generation of fluent speech. Among the conceptual decisions taken are ones of content selection and linear order. Content selection is a matter of deciding what should be expressed, given the speaker’s intentions and given mutual knowledge in the speaker-listener context. It will involve retrieval of information from memory or from the on-going scene in which the speaker is present. However, at the same time it is largely impossible for a speaker to give simultaneous expression to two or more units of information (let us call them “thoughts”). For linguistic expression these need be strictly ordered. The ordering of this information for expression we will call “linearization”. Some major determinants of linearization are, once again, mutual knowledge but also “economy” for working memory: speakers appear to order thoughts for expression such that load on working memory during speaking is minimized (cf. Levelt, 1979 a, b, 1981).


Naming Latency Syntactic Form Recognition Latency Sentence Production Figure Pair 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Willem Levelt
  • Ben Maasen

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