2023-10-06Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.1177/17470218221125425
Experience-driven meaning affects lexical choices during language production
The role of meaning facets based on sensorimotor experiences is well investigated in comprehension but has received little attention in language production research. In two experiments, we investigated whether experiential traces of space influenced lexical choices when participants completed visually presented sentence fragments (e.g., “You are at the sea and you see a . . .”) with spoken nouns (e.g., “dolphin,” “palm tree”). The words were presented consecutively in an ascending or descending direction, starting from the centre of the screen. These physical spatial cues did not influence lexical choices. However, the produced nouns met the spatial characteristics of the broader sentence contexts such that the typical spatial locations of the produced noun referents were predicted by the location of the situations described by the sentence fragments (i.e., upper or lower sphere). By including distributional semantic similarity measures derived from computing cosine values between sentence nouns and produced nouns using a web-based text corpus, we show that the meaning dimension of “location in space” guides lexical selection during speaking. We discuss the relation of this spatial meaning dimension to accounts of experientially grounded and usage-based theories of language processing and their combination in hybrid approaches. In doing so, we contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the many facets of meaning processing during language production and their impact on the words we select to express verbal messages.
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