Lexical and phonological effects on syntactic processing: evidence from syntactic priming

Mikel Santesteban, Martin J. Pickering, Janet F. McLean

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


We investigated whether phonological relationships at the lexical level affect syntactic encoding during sentence production. Cleland and Pickering (2003) showed that syntactic priming effects are enhanced by semantic, but not phonological relations between lexical items, suggesting that there are no effects of phonology on syntactic encoding. Here we report four experiments investigating the influence of homophones on syntactic priming. When describing the picture of a flying bat, Experiments 1 and 2 revealed that people tended to produce relative-clauses such as the bat that’s red (instead of the red bat) more often after hearing the bat that’s red (referring to a cricket bat), than after the pool that’s red. Experiments 3 and 4 revealed that mediated homophone–semantic relations between lexical items (e.g., flying bat–racket) do not enhance syntactic priming. We interpret these results in terms of theories of syntactic encoding.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-366
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Language production
  • Sentence production
  • Syntactic priming
  • Phonological priming


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