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Title: The Cross-linguistic Study of Sentence Production
Author(s): T. Florian Jaeger , Elisabeth J. Norcliffe
Journal Title: Language and Linguistics Compass
Volume: 3
Issue: 4
Page Range: 866 - 887
Publication Date: Jul-2009
Abstract: The mechanisms underlying language production are often assumed to be universal, and hence not contingent on a speaker's language. This assumption is problematic for at least two reasons. Given the typological diversity of the world's languages, only a small subset of languages has actually been studied psycholinguistically. And, in some cases, these investigations have returned results that at least superficially raise doubt about the assumption of universal production mechanisms. The goal of this paper is to illustrate the need for more psycholinguistic work on a typologically more diverse set of languages. We summarize cross-linguistic work on sentence production (specifically: grammatical encoding), focusing on examples where such work has improved our theoretical understanding beyond what studies on English alone could have achieved. But cross-linguistic research has much to offer beyond the testing of existing hypotheses: it can guide the development of theories by revealing the full extent of the human ability to produce language structures. We discuss the potential for interdisciplinary collaborations, and close with a remark on the impact of language endangerment on psycholinguistic research on understudied languages.

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Comments welcome   by Florian Jaeger , 7-Jul-11
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