Structural repetition in restricted and unrestricted dialogue

  • Healey, Patrick G. T.
  • Purver, Matthew
  • Howes, Christine
Can structural priming help to explain language processing in dialogue? Dialogue is the environment in which language is first encountered, acquired and used and arguably represents the most important challenge for models of language processing. In this paper we compare patterns of lexical and syntactic repetition in samples of context restricted and unrestricted dialogues, and by comparing general syntactic repetition to that for only low-frequency syntactic constructions. Results show that genre makes a substantial difference to the likelihood of repetition. Levels of lexical repetition are consistently higher than chance, however, when levels of lexical repetition are taken into account, in all contexts people repeat each other’s syntactic constructions less than would be expected by chance. This supports the view that outside of experimental contexts, language processing in natural dialogue is characterised not by repetition but by contrast.
Research areas:
Type of Publication:
In Proceedings
Book title:
26th Annual Meeting of the Society for Text and Discourse
Kassel, Germany
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