Publication details [#61068]

Ernestus, Mirjam and Benjamin V. Tucker. 2016. Why we need to investigate casual speech to truly understand language production, processing and the mental lexicon. The Mental Lexicon 11 (3) : 375–400.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


The majority of studies addressing psycholinguistic questions focus on speech produced and processed in a careful, laboratory speech style. This ‘careful’ speech is very different from the speech that listeners encounter in casual conversations. This article argues that research on casual speech is necessary to show the validity of conclusions based on careful speech. Moreover, research on casual speech produces new insights and questions on the processes underlying communication and on the mental lexicon that cannot be revealed by research using careful speech. This article first places research on casual speech in its historic perspective. It then provides many examples of how casual speech differs from careful speech and shows that these differences may have important implications for psycholinguistic theories. Subsequently, the article discusses the challenges that research on casual speech faces, which stem from the high variability of this speech style, its necessary casual context, and that casual speech is connected speech. It also present opportunities for research on casual speech, mostly in the form of new experimental methods that facilitate research on connected speech. However, real progress can only be made if these new methods are combined with advanced (still to be developed) statistical techniques.