We frequently experience and successfully process anomalous utterances. Here we examine whether people do this by ‘correcting’ syntactic anomalies to yield well-formed representations. In two structural priming experiments, participants’ syntactic choices in picture description were influenced as strongly by previously comprehended anomalous (missing-verb) prime sentences as by well-formed prime sentences. Our results suggest that comprehenders can reconstruct the constituent structure of anomalous utterances – even when such utterances lack a major structural component such as the verb. These results also imply that structural alignment in dialogue is unaffected if one interlocutor produces anomalous utterances.
Ivanova, I., Branigan, H. P., McLean, J. F., Costa, A., & Pickering, M. J. (2017). Do you what I say? People reconstruct the syntax of anomalous utterances. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 32(2), 175-189. https://doi.org/10.1080/23273798.2016.1236976