Grammatical and nongrammatical contributions to closed-class word selection


  • Alario F. -Xavier
  • Ayora Pauline
  • Costa Albert
  • Melinger Alissa

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Closed-class word selection was investigated by focusing on determiner production. Native speakers from three different languages named pictures of objects using determiner plus noun phrases (e.g., in French ``la table'' [the(feminine) table], while ignoring distractor determiners printed on the pictures (e.g., ``le'' [the(masculine)]. The target and distractor expressed either shared or different grammatical and nongrammatical features (gender, number, and definiteness). A gender-facilitation effect was observed and attributed to noun processing. Crucially, across five experiments, distractors that shared a feature with the target determiner never resulted in longer naming latencies than distractors that were more different. These results indicate that activating related candidates is not detrimental for determiner retrieval, suggesting a noncompetitive mechanism of closed-class word selection.

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