- Reading between the (head)lines: a processing account of article omissions in newspaper headlines and child speech
- Volume | Issue number
- 119 | 10
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication (ACLC)
In psycholinguistic research, minimized, or reduced structures, are a characteristic property of the child and agrammatic Broca’s aphasics’ speech. These constructions have received much attention in the linguistic literature, with a particular focus on the omission patterns the two populations exhibit. In most cases, such minimization or reduction has been explained in terms of different underlying knowledge mechanisms, for example as an incorrect parameter setting, or a partial reduction ("pruning") of a syntactic tree. It is remarkable, however, that in unimpaired adult speech reduction (or minimization) of structure is also possible. As a characteristic of unimpaired speech, these utterances have been investigated to a much lesser degree. In this article we offer a processing account of the cross-linguistic similarities and differences observed in the pattern of article omissions in newspaper headlines, one of the so-called special registers. We demonstrate that there are interesting similarities between this register and the pattern of omissions observed in small children. Furthermore, this pattern is observed both in Dutch and Italian: two languages that differ in their inventory of the article system. We present an information theoretical model of article selection and production that explains the optional nature of the structure reduction in both child speech and newspaper headlines. We conclude that minimization (or reduction) of structure can be explained in terms of optimization of the underlying processing mechanisms.
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