Comprehension vs. production

J. Cooper Cutting
Table of contents

Language allows us to express and communicate our thoughts to others. Using language to communicate these thoughts relies on our abilities to both produce and to comprehend language. That is, without someone who can comprehend language (the ‘listener’), someone producing an utterance (the ‘speaker’) won’t be able to communicate thoughts via that utterance. Luckily, each one of us is both a speaker and a listener. Both the dependency between production and comprehension for communication and the fact that we all have both abilities, leads to a central question in language research: how are the two processes related? In other words, is going from thought to language and from language to thought, accomplished by a single system working in two directions, or by two separate systems? Most of the research on this question comes from the domain of psycholinguistics, primarily because of the focus on intermediate mental representations and processes.

Full-text access is restricted to subscribers. Log in to obtain additional credentials. For subscription information see Subscription & Price.


Allport, D.A.
1984Speech production and comprehension: One lexicon or two? In W. Prinz & A.F. Sanders (eds.) Cognition and motor processes: 209–228. Springer. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Arbib, M.A., D. Caplan & J.C. Marshall
(eds.) Neural Models of Language Processes Academic Press
Baars, B.J. & M.T. Motley & D.G. Mackay
1975Output editing for lexical status in artificially elicited slips of the tongue. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior 14: 382–391. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Badecker, W. & M. Miozzo & R. Zanuttini
1995The two-stage model of lexical retrieval: Evidence from a case of anomia with selective preservation of grammatical gender. Cognition 57: 193–216. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Balota, D.A.
1990The role of meaning in word recognition. In D. A. Balota, G. B. Flores D’arcais & K. Rayner (eds.) Comprehension processes in reading. Erlbaum: 9–32.Google Scholar
Becker, C.A.
1976Allocation of attention during visual word recognition. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 5: 252–259. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Benedict, H.
1979Early lexical development: Comprehension and production. Journal of Child Language 6: 183–200. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Besner, D. & R.S. Mccann
1987Word frequency and pattern distortion in visual word identification and production: An examination of four classes of models. In M. Coltheart (ed.): 201–219.Google Scholar
Bock, J.K. & R. K. Warren
1985Conceptual accessibility and syntactic structure in sentence formulation. Cognition 21: 47–67. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Bock, J.K.
1986Meaning, sound, and syntax: Lexical priming in sentence production. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 12: 575–586. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1987aAn effect of the accessibility of word forms on sentence structures. Journal of Memory and Language 26: 119–137. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1987bCoordinating words and syntax in speech plans. In A. Ellis (ed.) Progress in the psychology of language: 337–390. Erlbaum.Google Scholar
Bock, K. & W. Levelt
1994Language production: Grammatical encoding. In M. Gernsbacher (ed.) Handbook of psycholinguistics: 945–984. Academic Press.Google Scholar
Bock, K. & H. Loebell
1990Framing sentences. Cognition 35: 1–39. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Bock, J.K., H. Loebell & R. Morey
1992From conceptual roles to structural relations: Bridging the syntactic cleft. Psychological Review 99: 150–171. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Branigan, H.P., M.J. Pickering S.P. Liversedge, A.J. Stewart & T.P. Urbach
1995Syntactic priming: Investigating the mental representation of language. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research 24: 489–506. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Brown, P.M. & G.S. Dell
1987Adapting production to comprehension: The explicit mention of instruments. Cognitive Psychology 19: 441–472.Google Scholar
Caramazza, A.
1991Issues in reading, writing, and speaking. A neuropsychological perspective. Kluwer Academic Publishers. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Clark, H.H.
1996Using Language. Cambridge University Press. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Clark Haviland
1977Comprehension and the given-new contract. In R.O. Freedle (ed.) Discourse production and comprehension: 1–40. Erlbaum.Google Scholar
Clark, H.H. & C.R. Marshall
1981Definite reference and mutual knowledge. In A. K. Joshi, B. L. Webber & I.A. Sag (eds.) Elements of discourse understanding: 10–63. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Clark, H.H. & G.L. Murphy
1982Audience design in meaning and reference. In J.F. Leny & W. Kintsch (eds.) Language and comprehension. North-Holland.DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Clark, H. H. & R. Schreuder & S. Buttrick
1983Common ground and the understanding of demonstrative reference. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior 22: 1–39. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Coltheart, M.
1978Lexical access in simple reading tasks. In G. Underwood (ed.) Strategies of information processing: 151–216. Academic Press.Google Scholar
(ed.) Attention and performance XII. The psychology of reading Erlbaum
Cutting, J.C.
1997The production and comprehension lexicons: What’s shared and what’s not. Paper presented at the 69th Annual Meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago.
Cutting, J.C. & V.S. Ferreira
1999Overlapping semantic and phonological processing in spoken word production. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 25: 318–344. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Dell, G.S.
1986A spreading-activation theory of retrieval in sentence production. Psychological Review 93: 283–321. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1988The retrieval of phonological forms in production: Tests of predictions from a connectionist model. Journal of Memory and Language 27: 124–142. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Dell, G.S. & P.M. Brown
1991Mechanisms for listener-adaptation in language production: Limiting the role of the “model of the listener”. In D.J. Napoli & J.A. Kegl (eds.) Bridges between psychology and linguistics: 105–129. Erlbaum.Google Scholar
Dell, G.S. & P.G. O’seaghdha
1991Mediated and convergent lexical priming in language production: A comment on Levelt et al. 1991. Psychological Review 98: 604–614. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Dell, G.S. & Reich
1981Stages in sentence production: An analysis of speech error data. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior 20: 611–629. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Ferrand, L. & J. Grainger & J. Segui
1994A study of masked form priming in picture and word naming. Memory & Cognition 22: 431–441. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Ferreira, V.S.
1996Is it better to give than to donate? Syntactic flexibility in language production. Journal of Memory & Language 35: 724–755.Google Scholar
Folk, J.R. & R.K. Morris
1995Multiple lexical codes in reading: Evidence from eye movements, naming time, and oral reading. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition 21: 1412–1429. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1976Accessing the mental lexicon. In R.J. Wales & E.W. Walker (eds.) New approaches to language mechanisms: 257–287. North-Holland.Google Scholar
Fox Tree, J.E.
1995The effects of false starts and repetitions on the processing of subsequent words in spontaneous speech. Journal of Memory and Language 34: 709–738. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Fox Tree, J.E. & H.H. Clark
1997Pronouncing “the” as /thiy/ to signal trouble in spontaneous conversation. Cognition 62: 151–167. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Fraser, C.J., U. Bellugi & R. Brown
1963Control of grammar in imitation, comprehension and production. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior 2: 121–135. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Frazier, L.
1982Shared components of production and perception. In M.A. Arbib et al. (eds.): 225–236. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Frazier, L. & C. Clifton
1996Construal. MIT Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Frazier, L., L. Taft, C. Clifton, T. Roeper & K. Ehrlich
1984Parallel structure: A source of facilitation in sentence comprehension. Memory & Cognition 12: 421–430. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Fromkin, V.A.
1973Speech errors as linguistic evidence. Mouton.Google Scholar
Funnell, E. & A. Allport
1987Non-linguistic cognition and word meanings: Neuropsychological exploration of common mechanisms. In A. Allport, D.G. Mackay, W. Prinz & E. Scheerer (eds.), Language perception and production: 367–400. Academic Press.  BoPGoogle Scholar
Garrett, M.F.
1980Levels of processing in sentence production. In Butterworth (ed.) Language production: Vol. 1: 177–220. Academic Press.Google Scholar
1982aRemarks on the relation between language production and language comprehension systems. In M.A. Arbib et al. (eds.): 209–224. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1982bA perspective on research in language production. In J. Mehler, E.C.T. Walker & M.F. Garrett (eds.) Perspectives on Mental Representation: 185–199. Erlbaum.Google Scholar
1988Processes in language production. In F.J. Newmeyer (ed.) Linguistics: The Cambridge survey III: 69–96. Cambridge University Press. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Gipson, P.
1986The production of phonology and auditory priming. British Journal of Psychology 77: 359–375. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Grainger, J. & L. Ferrand
1994Phonology and orthography in visual word recognition: Effects of masked homophone primes. Journal of Memory and Language 33: 218–233. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Horton, W.S. & B. Keysar
1996When do speakers take into account common ground? Cognition 59: 91–117. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Keenan, E.L. & B. Comrie
1977Noun phrase accessibility and universal grammar. Linguistic Inquiry 8: 63–99.Google Scholar
Kempen, G. & P. Huijbers
1983The lexicalization process in sentence production and naming: Indirect election of words. Cognition 14: 41–104. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Keysar, B.
1994The illusory transparency of intention: Linguistic perspective taking in text. Cognitive Psychology 26: 165–208. DOI logo  MetBibGoogle Scholar
Lashley, K.S.
1951The problem of serial order in behaviour. In L.A. Jeffress (ed.) Cerebral mechanisms in behaviour: 112–136. Wiley.Google Scholar
Levelt, W.J.M.
1983Monitoring and self-repair in speech. Cognition 14: 41–104. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
1989Speaking: From intention to articulation. MIT Press.Google Scholar
Levelt, W.J.M. & S. Kelter
1982Surface form and memory in question answering. Cognitive Psychology 14: 78–106. DOI logo  BoPGoogle Scholar
Levelt, W.J.M., H. Schriefers, D. Vorberg, A.S. Meyer, T. Pechmann & J. Havinga
1991The time course of lexical access in speech production: A study of picture naming. Psychological Review 98: 122–142. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Lichtheim, K.
1885On aphasia. Brain 7: 433–484. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Lukatela, G. & M.T. Turvey
1990Phonemic similarity effects and prelexical phonology. Memory & Cognition 18: 128–152. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Macdonald, M.C., N.J. Pearlmutter & M. Seidenberg
1994The lexical nature of syntactic ambiguity resolution. Psychological Review 101: 676–703. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Mackay, D.G.
1987The organization of perception and action: A theory for language and other cognitive skills. Springer. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Mattson, M.E. & B.J. Baars
1992Error-minimizing mechanisms. In B.J. Baars (ed.) Experimental slips and human error: Exploring the architecture of volition: 263–287. Plenum Press. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Meyer, A.S. & H. Schriefers
1991Phonological facilitation in picture-word interference experiments: Effects of stimulus onset asynchrony and types of interfering stimuli. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 17: 1146–1160. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Monsell, S.
1987On the relation between lexical input and output pathways for speech. In A. Allport, D.G. Mackay, W. Prinz, W. Prinz & E. Scheerer (eds.) Language perception and production: Relationships between listening, speaking, reading, and writing: 273–312. Academic Press.Google Scholar
Motley, M.T., C.T. Camden & B.J. Baars
1981Toward verifying the assumptions of laboratory-induced slips of the tongue: The output-error and editing issues. Human Communication Research 8: 3–15. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Nooteboom, S.G.
1980Speaking and unspeaking: Detection and correction of phonological and lexical errors in spontaneous speech. In V.A. Fromkin (ed.) Errors in linguistic performance. Academic Press.Google Scholar
Patterson, K.E. & V. Coltheart
1987Phonological processes in reading: A tutorial review. In M. Coltheart (ed.): 421–447.Google Scholar
Peterson, R.R. & P. Savoy
1998Lexical selection and phonological encoding during language production: Evidence for cascaded processing. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition 24: 539–557. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Roelofs, A.
1992A spreading activation theory of lemma retrieval in speaking. Cognition 42: 107–142. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Schreuder, R., M. Grendel, N. Poulisse, A. Roelofs & M. Van De Voort
1990Lexical processing, morphological complexity and reading. In D.A. Balota et al. (eds.): 125–142.Google Scholar
Schriefers, H., A.S. Meyer & W. Levelt
1990Exploring the time course of lexical access in language production: Picture-word interference studies. Journal of Memory and Language 29: 86–102. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Shallice, T.
1988Specialization within the semantic system. Cognitive Neuropsychology 5: 133–142. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Shallice, T., P. Mcleod & K. Lewis
1985Isolating cognitive modules with the dual-task paradigm: Are speech perception and production separate processes? The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 37A: 507–532. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Starreveld, P.A. & W. La Heij
1996Time-course analysis of semantic and orthographic context effects in picture naming. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 22: 896–918. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Stemberger, J.P.
1985An interactive activation model of language production. In A. Ellis (ed.) Progress in the psychology of language: 143–186. Erlbaum.Google Scholar
Stuart, G.P. & D.M. Jones
1996From auditory image to auditory percept: Facilitation through common processes? Memory & Cognition 24: 296–304. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Tanenhaus, M.K., H.P. Flanagan & M.S. Seidenberg
1980Orthographic and phonological activation in auditory and visual word recognition. Memory & Cognition 11: 103–107.Google Scholar
Underwood, G.
1976Semantic interference from unattended printed words. British Journal of Psychology 67: 327–338. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Underwood, G., R.S. Parry & L. Bull
1978Simple reading tasks are affected by unattended context. In M. Gruneberg, P.E. Morris & R.N. Sykes (eds.) Practical Aspects of Memory: 515–522Academic Press.Google Scholar
Underwood, G. & S. Thwaites
1982Automatic phonological coding of unattended printed words. Memory & Cognition 10: 434–442. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Van Orden, G.C.
1987A ROWS is a ROSE: Spelling, sound and reading. Memory and Cognition 15: 181–198. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Van Orden, G.C., J.C. Johnston & B.L. Hale
1988Word identification in reading proceeds from spelling to sound to meaning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 14: 371–386. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Van Wijk, C. & G. Kempen
1987A dual system for producing self-repairs in spontaneous speech: Evidence from experimentally elicited corrections. Cognitive Psychology 19: 403–440. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Vigliocco, G., T. Antonini & M.F. Garrett
1997Grammatical gender is on the tip of Italian tongues. Psychological Science 8: 314–317. DOI logoGoogle Scholar
Zwitserlood, P.
1994Access to phonological-form representations in language comprehension and production. In C. Clifton & L. Frazier (eds.) Perspectives on sentence processing: 83–106. Erlbaum.Google Scholar