Models of word production
Levelt, W. J. M.
Models of word production. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 3
Research on spoken word production has been approached from two angles. In one research tradition, the analysis of spontaneous or induced speech errors led to models that can account for speech error distributions. In another tradition, the measurement of picture naming latencies led to chronometric models accounting for distributions of reaction times in word production. Both kinds of models are, however, dealing with the same underlying processes: (1) the speaker’s selection of a word that is semantically and syntactically appropriate; (2) the retrieval of the word’s phonological properties; (3) the rapid syllabification of the word in context; and (4) the preparation of the corresponding articulatory gestures. Models of both traditions explain these processes in terms of activation spreading through a localist, symbolic network. By and large, they share the main levels of representation: conceptual/semantic, syntactic, phonological and phonetic. They differ in various details, such as the amount of cascading and feedback in the network. These research traditions have begun to merge in recent years, leading to highly constructive experimentation. Currently, they are like two similar knives honing each other. A single pair of scissors is in the making.