Asymmetries between Language Production and Comprehension

Petra Hendriks: Asymmetries between Language Production and Comprehension

This book will be published by Springer in 2013 in its series Studies in Theoretical Psycholinguistics. It presents the results of the NWO/Vici project "Asymmetries in Grammar", which was carried out at the University of Groningen between 2007 and 2013.


This book asserts that language is a signaling system rather than a code, based in part on such research as the finding that 5-year-old English and Dutch children use pronouns correctly in their own utterances, but often fail to interpret these forms correctly when used by someone else.

Emphasizing the unique and sometimes competing demands of listener and speaker, the author examines resulting asymmetries between production and comprehension. The text offers examples of the interpretation of word order and pronouns by listeners, and word order freezing and referential choice by speakers. It is explored why the usual symmetry breaks down in children but also sometimes in adults.

Gathering contemporary insights from theoretical linguistic research, psycholinguistic studies and computational modeling, Asymmetries between Language Production and Comprehension presents a unified explanation of this phenomenon.

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Petra Hendriks CLCG BCN RUG NWO