Referential and lexical forces in number agreement

Brehm, L., & Bock, K. (2017). Referential and lexical forces in number agreement. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 32(2), 129-146. doi:10.1080/23273798.2016.1234060.
In work on grammatical agreement in sentence production, there are accounts of verb number formulation that emphasise the role of whole-structure properties and accounts that emphasise the role of word-driven properties. To evaluate these alternatives, we carried out two experiments that examined a referential (wholistic) contributor to agreement along with two lexical-semantic (local) factors. Both experiments gauged the accuracy and latency of inflected-verb production in order to assess how variations in grammatical number interacted with the other factors. The accuracy of verb production was modulated both by the referential effect of notional number and by the lexical-semantic effects of relatedness and category membership. As an index of agreement difficulty, latencies were little affected by either factor. The findings suggest that agreement is sensitive to referential as well as lexical forces and highlight the importance of lexical-structural integration in the process of sentence production.
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