Transposed-word effects in speeded grammatical decisions to sequences of spoken words


  • Dufour Sophie
  • Mirault Jonathan
  • Grainger Jonathan


  • Syntactic constraints
  • Transposed-word effects
  • Speech comprehension
  • Grammatical decision task

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We used the grammatical decision task (a speeded version of the grammaticality judgment task) with auditorily presented sequences of five words that could either form a grammatically correct sentence or an ungrammatical sequence. The critical ungrammatical sequences were either formed by transposing two adjacent words in a correct sentence (transposed-word sequences: e.g., “The black was dog big”) or were matched ungrammatical sequences that could not be resolved into a correct sentence by transposing any two words (control sequences: e.g., “The black was dog slowly”). These were intermixed with an equal number of correct sentences for the purpose of the grammatical decision task. Transposed-word sequences were harder to reject as being ungrammatical (longer response times (RTs) and more errors) relative to the ungrammatical control sequences, hence attesting for the first time that transposed-word effects can be observed in the spoken language version of the grammatical decision task. Given the relatively unambiguous nature of the speech input in terms of word order, we interpret these transposed-word effects as reflecting the constraints imposed by syntax when processing a sequence of spoken words in order to make a speeded grammatical decision.

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