Lexical access in the production of pronouns

Schmitt, B. M., Meyer, A. S., & Levelt, W. J. M. (1999). Lexical access in the production of pronouns. Cognition, 69(3), 313-335. doi:doi:10.1016/S0010-0277(98)00073-0.
Speakers can use pronouns when their conceptual referents are accessible from the preceding discourse, as in 'The flower is red. It turns blue'. Theories of language production agree that in order to produce a noun semantic, syntactic, and phonological information must be accessed. However, little is known about lexical access to pronouns. In this paper, we propose a model of pronoun access in German. Since the forms of German pronouns depend on the grammatical gender of the nouns they replace, the model claims that speakers must access the syntactic representation of the replaced noun (its lemma) to select a pronoun. In two experiments using the lexical decision during naming paradigm [Levelt, W.J.M., Schriefers, H., Vorberg, D., Meyer, A.S., Pechmann, T., Havinga, J., 1991a. The time course of lexical access in speech production: a study of picture naming. Psychological Review 98, 122-142], we investigated whether lemma access automatically entails the activation of the corresponding word form or whether a word form is only activated when the noun itself is produced, but not when it is replaced by a pronoun. Experiment 1 showed that during pronoun production the phonological form of the replaced noun is activated. Experiment 2 demonstrated that this phonological activation was not a residual of the use of the noun in the preceding sentence. Thus, when a pronoun is produced, the lemma and the phonological form of the replaced noun become reactivated.
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