Lexical and perceptual biases in speakers’ syntactic choices

Andriy Myachykov*, Christoph Scheepers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Russell Tomlin’s groundbreaking work laid a foundation for the explorations of the interplay between linguistic and nonlinguistic factors determining structural choice during sentence production. The present article investigates the interplay between two such factors, lexical priming and visual cueing, which may prioritize a particular referent of an event for privileged subject status within a sentence. To this end, native speakers of English read noun names of either the agent or the patient prior to describing a transitive event. Before the event description, an exogenous visual cue directed their attention to the location of one of the event’s referents. Analysis of the proportion of passive-voice descriptions revealed a strong effect of lexical priming with more passives after patient-related lexical primes but no effect of visual cueing. This highlights potential constraints on previously documented visual cueing effects on speakers’ structural choices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalDiscourse Processes
Early online date8 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 May 2024

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