The timing of verb selection in Japanese sentence production


Many influential models of sentence production (e.g., Bock & Levelt, 1994; Kempen & Hoenkamp, 1987; Levelt, 1989) emphasize the central role of verbs in structural encoding, and thus predict that verbs should be selected early in sentence formulation, possibly even before the phonological encoding of the first constituent (Ferreira, 2000). However, the most direct experimental test of this hypothesis (Schriefers, Teruel, & Meinshausen, 1998) found no evidence for advance verb selection in verb-final (subject-verb and subject-object-verb) utterances in German. The current study, based on a multiword picture-word interference task (Meyer, 1996; Schriefers et al., 1998), demonstrates that in Japanese, a strongly verb-final language, verbs are indeed planned in advance, but selectively before object noun articulation and not before subject noun articulation. This contrasting pattern of advance verb selection may reconcile the motivation for advance verb selection in structural encoding while explaining the previous failures to demonstrate it. Potential mechanisms that might underlie this contrasting pattern of advance verb selection are discussed.

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 42, 813-824.