Production is biased to provide informative cues early: Evidence from miniature artificial languages


The role of processing constraints on sentence structure has been a topic of central interest in cognitive science. One proposal (Hawkins, 2004) suggests that language production system is organized to facilitate efficient parsing. We experimentally test this hypothesis using a miniature artificial language learning paradigm. Our findings support this account. Even though the input languages did not favor early placement of cues to grammatical function assignment (case and word order), participants used these cues in their own productions significantly more often in such a way as to allow early correct parsing commitments. This preference interacted with a bias to mark the less expected: Participants tended to use more case-marking in non-English OSV sentences. Our results underscore the potential of miniature artificial learning for language production research.

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