Kempen, G., & Maassen, B.
(1977). The time course of conceptualizing and formulating processes during the production of simple sentences. In Proceedings of The Third Prague Conference on the Psychology of Human Learning and Development. Prague: Institute of Psychology.
The psychological process of producing sentences includes conceptualization (selecting to-beexpressed conceptual content) and formulation (translating conceptual content into syntactic structures of a language). There is ample evidence, both intuitive and experimental, that the conceptualizing and formulating processes often proceed concurrently, not strictly serially. James Lindsley (Cognitive
Psych.,1975, 7, 1-19; J.Psycholinguistic Res., 1976, 5, 331-354) has developed a concurrent model which proved succesful in an experimental situation where simple English Subject-Verb (SV) sentences such as “The boy is greeting”,”The girl is kicking” were produced as descriptions of pictures which showed actor and action. The measurements were reaction times defined as the interval between the moment a picture appeared on a screen and the onset of the vocal utterance by the speaker. Lindsley could show, among other things, that the formulation process for an SV sentence doesn’t start immediately after the actor of a
picture (that is, the conceptual content underlying the surface Subject phrase) has been identified, but is somewhat delayed. The delay was needed, according to Lindsley, in order to prevent dysfluencies (hesitations) between surface Subject and verb. We replicated Lindsley’s data for Dutch. However, his model proved inadequate when we added Dutch Verb-Subject (VS) constructions which are obligatory in certain syntactic contexts but synonymous with their SV counterparts. A sentence production theory which is being developed by the first author is able to provide an accurate account of the data. The abovementioned delay is attributed to certain precautions the sentence generator has to take in case of SV
but not of VS sentences. These precautions are related to the goal of attaining syntactic coherence of the utterance as a whole, not to the prevention of dysfluencies.