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Production preferences cannot be understood without reference to communication

Authors
Journal
Frontiers in Psychology
1664-1078
Publisher
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Volume
4
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00230
Keywords
  • Psychology
  • Opinion Article
Disciplines
  • Communication
  • Linguistics

Abstract

Production preferences cannot be understood without reference to communication OPINION ARTICLE published: 26 April 2013 doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00230 Production preferences cannot be understood without reference to communication T. Florian Jaeger* Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Human Language Processing Lab, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, USA *Correspondence: [email protected] Edited by: Charles Jr. Clifton, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA Reviewed by: Charles Jr. Clifton, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA MacDonald (2013) proposes that com- prehenders are sensitive to statistical pat- terns in their language input (Claim 1). These patterns are hypothesized to result from speakers’ preferences in production, aggregated over the population (Claim 2). Production preferences are taken to be primarily determined by biases that serve production ease, thereby improving flu- ency (Claim 3). These three claims, together constituting the core of the PDC, are an ambitious endeavor to tie together several lines of research in psycholin- guistics and linguistics. Here, I focus on the second and third claim, that it is predominantly “production ease,” rather than communicative pressures, that drives production preferences and hence lan- guage form (M, p. 13; cf. Bard et al., 2000; Ferreira and Dell, 2000; Arnold, 2008; Ferreira, 2008; Lam andWatson, 2010). In contrast, I argue that production preferences and language form are unlikely to be understood without reference to communication. Specifically, production preferences are the result of at least two competing type of biases: biases toward production ease and biases toward ease, or at least success, of comprehension (Zipf, 1949). I refer to a weak version of the second type of bias as robust information transfer.1 Two hypotheses about how robust information transfer might affect production preferences are often conflated in the literature. First, speakers might continuously “estimate” their interlocu

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