Language production

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In psycholinguistics, language production is the production of spoken or written language. It describes all of the stages between having a concept, and translating that concept into linguistic form. In computational linguistics/natural language processing and artificial intelligence, the term natural language generation (NLG) is more common, and those models may or may not be psychologically motivated.

Stages of production[edit]

The basic loop occurring in the creation of language consists of the following stages:

  • Intended message
  • Encode message into linguistic form
  • Encode linguistic form into speech motor system
  • Sound goes from speaker's mouth to hearer's ear auditory system
  • Speech is decoded into linguistic form
  • Linguistic form is decoded into meaning

Models of production[edit]

Serial model[edit]

A serial model of language production divides the process into several stages. For example, there may be one stage for determining pronunciation and a stage for determining lexical content. The serial model does not allow overlap of these stages, so they may only be completed one at a time.

Connectionist model[edit]

Several researchers have proposed a connectionist model, one notable example being Dell[citation needed]. According to his connectionist model, there are four layers of processing and understanding: semantic, syntactic, morphological, and phonological. These work in parallel and in series, with activation at each level. Interference and misactivation can occur at any of these stages. Production begins with concepts, and continues down from there. One might start with the concept of a cat: a four-legged, furry, domesticated mammal with whiskers, etc. This conceptual set would attempt to find the corresponding word {cat}. This selected word would then select morphological and phonological data /k / at/. The distinction of this model is that, during this process, other elements would also be primed ({rat} might be somewhat primed, for example), as they are physically similar, and so can cause conceptual interference. Errors might also occur at the phoneme level, as many words are phonetically similar, e.g. mat. Substitutions of similar consonant sounds are more likely to occur, e.g. between plosive stop consonants such as d, p and b. Lower primed words are less likely to be chosen, but interference is thought to occur in cases of early selection, where the level of activation of the target and interference words is at the same level.[citation needed]

Aspects of production[edit]


Main article: Fluency

Can be defined in part by prosody, which is shown by a smooth intonation contour, and a number of other elements: control of speech rate, relative timing of stressed and unstressed syllables, changes in amplitude, and changes in fundamental frequency

Research into production[edit]

There are two main types of research into speech production. One type focuses on using the analysis of speech errors. The other looks at reaction-time data from picture-naming latencies. Although originally disparate, these two methodologies are generally looking at the same underlying processes of speech production.[1]

Speech errors[edit]

Main article: Speech error

Analysis of speech errors has found that not all are random, but rather systematic and fall into several categories. Although speech production is very fast, (2 words per second) the error rate of the utterances are relatively rare (less than 1/1000)[2] and those errors are categorized as follows:

  • Anticipation: The word is in the speaker's mind and ready to be spoken, but the speaker says it too quickly. This could be because the speaker is planning and holding words in their mind.
  • Perseveration: The word retains characteristics of a word said previously in a sentence:
Taddle Tennis instead of Paddle Tennis
  • Blending: More than one word is being considered and the two intended items "blend" into a single item, perhaps implying the speaker is waffling between a few word options.
The child is looking to be spaddled instead of spanked or paddled
  • Addition: adding of linguistics material, resulting in words like implossible.
  • Substitution: a whole word of related meaning is replacing another. These errors can be far apart from another, or target words, and are generally grammatically consistent and accurate.
at low speed it's too light (instead of heavy)
  • Malapropism: a lay term referring to the incorrect substitution of words. It is a reference to a character Mrs Malaprop from Sheridan's The Rivals.
Makes no delusions to the past.
The pineapple of perfection.
I have interceded another letter from the fellow.
  • Spoonerism: switching the letters from words. For example, the phrase slips of the tongue could become tips of the slung.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Levelt, Willem J. M.; Roelofs, A.; Meyer, AS. (Feb 1999). "A theory of lexical access in speech production.". Behav Brain Sci 22 (1): 1–38; discussion 38–75. doi:10.1017/s0140525x99001776. PMID 11301520. CiteSeerX: 
  2. ^ Levelt, Willem J. M. (1989). Speaking : from intention to articulation. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-12137-8. OCLC 797827712. 

Further reading[edit]