Seminar Series

An integrated theory of language production and comprehension

Currently, production and comprehension are regarded as quite distinct in accounts of language processing. In this talk I argue that producing and understanding are interwoven, and that this interweaving is what enables people to predict themselves and each other. I start by noting that production and comprehension are forms of action and action perception. I then consider the evidence for interweaving in action, action perception, and joint action, and explain such evidence in terms of prediction. Specifically, I will argue that actors construct forward models of their actions before they execute those actions, and that perceivers of others’ actions covertly imitate those actions, then construct forward models of those actions. I then use these accounts of action, action perception, and joint action to develop accounts of production, comprehension, and dialogue. Specifically, I show (a) how speakers and comprehenders use covert imitation and forward modeling to make predictions at multiple levels of linguistic representation, (b) how they interweave production and comprehension processes in doing so, and (c) how they use these predictions to monitor the upcoming utterances.