LING712: Proseminar in psycholinguistics – Grammatical processes in speaking

  • Instructor: Shota Momma
  • Location: ICL N451
  • Time: MW 2:30pm – 3:45pm

Course overview

This course is about language production. Many psycholinguists have studied how linguistic knowledge is put to use in language comprehension. In contrast, not so many psycholinguistics have studied language production, and we still know relatively little about how linguistic knowledge is put to use in language production. But precisely because language production is understudied, there are lots of questions about language production mechanisms that remain to be answered. Thus, it is highly likely that you, with your distinct expertise in different subfields in cognitive science and linguistics, have something to contribute to the development of language production theories. In this context, this course provides the overview of the current theories and methods in language production research to prepare you to dive into the research on language production. Conceptual/semantic, syntactic, and phonological processes in language production will be discussed, so students in different subfields can provide unique insights into the problems we discuss in this class.

There are three major goals of the current course. The first goal is to understand the current theories and methodologies in language production research. We will be reading both theoretical and empirical papers on language production, and discuss them in class. The topics we will cover include: how speakers’ conceptual representations and processes influences linguistic processes; how speakers construct syntactic representations; how argument structures affect sentence formulation processes; how hierarchal representations get externalized as speech; challenges in studying language production, especially at the sentence-level; and the relationship between linguistic processes and other cognitive mechanisms such as working memory, attention and comprehension mechanisms. For more detail, see the schedule below.

The second goal is to get hands-on experience in conducting a language production experiment and in reporting experimental results from production experiments. We will collectively (in team) design, set up, and run a language production experiment in our department. Approximately 3 weeks are reserved for this activity. You will then individually analyze and report the results of the experiment, and write a short (1 page + figures and tables) abstract.

The final goal is to develop your own research question in the field of language production. As you read more papers, I am sure that you will have some questions that have not been answered (definitively). You will write, individually or in team, a medium-length paper (either literature review or a proposal of an experiment, 10~15 pages double-spaced) that address the questions about language production mechanisms. The last week is reserved for in-class presentation of your final project.


  • Attendance (10%): Attend biweekly class meeting, having read the required reading (see the schedule below).
  • Presentations (20%): Give two presentations on the required readings, and one presentation on your final project.
  • Abstract writing (10%): Write (individually) a short abstract (1 page + figures and tables) for the experiment we collectively design and run in class.
  • Final project (60%): Write an APA-style literature review, a theoretical paper, or an experimental proposal as your final paper (10-15 pages, double-spaced).

Schedule (tentative)

DateTopicReadingsOptional readingsDiscussion leader(s)
9/4 (W)Basic frameworkLevelt (1999)
Ferreira, Morgan and Slevc (2018)
9/9 (M)Speech errors IGarrett (1975)TBA
9/11 (W)Speech errors IIFromkin (1971)
Vigliocco et al. (1997)
Bock (1996)
Baars (1992)
9/16 (M)Conceptualization IGriffin and Bock (2000)
Gleitman et al. (2007)
Papafragou and Grigoroglou (2019)TBA
9/18 (W)Conceptualization IIBock and Irwin (1980)
McDonald et al. (1993)
9/23 (M)Syntactic priming IBock and Loebell (1992)
Ziegler et al. (2019)
Pickering and Ferriera (2006)
9/25 (W)Syntactic priming IIKim (2006)
Xiang and Marchant (2018)
Branigan and Pickering (2007)TBA
9/30 (M)Agreement IBock and Miller (1991)
Bock and Cutting (1992)
Eberhardt and Bock (2005)TBA
10/2 (W)Agreement IIFranck et al. (2006)
Gillespie and Pearlmutter (2013)
10/7 (M)Structure building IPickering et al. (2002)
Scheepers (2003)
Bock and Ferreira (2013)TBA
10/9 (W)Structure building IIFerreira (1996)
Hwang and Kaiser (2016)
10/15 (T)Argument structuresSchriefers et al. (1998)
Momma, Slevc and Phillips (2018)
Momma and Ferreira (in prep)TBA
10/16 (W)Long distance dependencies Ferreira and Swets (2005)
Fadlon et al. (2019)
10/21 (M)No class: Matt Goldrick visiting UMassTBA
10/23 (W)No class: Matt Goldrick visiting UMass

10/28 (M)Production and learningPickering and Branigan (1998)
Bock and Griffin (2000)
10/30 (W)Linearization IStallings et al. (1996)
Yamashita and Chang (2003)
11/4 (M)Phonological encoding ISevald and Dell (1992)
Wheeldon and Levelt (1995)
Wagner and Watson (2011)TBA
11/6 (W)Phonological encoding IIFerreira (1993)
Watson and Gibson (2004)
11/13 (W)Discussion of the experimental design

Lab (design and run a production experiment)
11/18 (M)Shota away

Lab (design and run a production experiment)
Psychopy tutorial (, especially the chapter on 'Builder'

Watch Brian's video
11/20 (W)Running participants

Lab (design and run a production experiment)
Install R studio and play around with it
12/2 (M)Running more participants/trouble shooting

Lab (design and run a production experiment)
12/4 (W)Trouble shooting and wrap-up

Lab (design and run a production experiment)
12/9 (M)Student presentation I
12/11 (W)Student presentation I

List of Readings