LINGUIST List 15.562

Thu Feb 12 2004

Qs: English 'Go Ahead'; Persistence/Priming Effects

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  1. Emma Pavey, meaning/use of 'go ahead' in spoken English
  2. Benedikt Szmrecsanyi, "syntactic priming": logarithmic decay?

Message 1: meaning/use of 'go ahead' in spoken English

Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2004 08:49:36 -0500 (EST)
From: Emma Pavey <>
Subject: meaning/use of 'go ahead' in spoken English

Does anyone know of work on the meaning/use of 'go ahead',
particularly given the following two attested examples:

1) (Speaker at conference, at conclusion of paper): I'm going to go
ahead and stop there.

2) (Airline official at boarding gate): first class passengers are
welcome to board at their leisure; remaining passengers can go ahead
and stay seated for a few more minutes.

Please reply directly to me - I'll post a summary

Emma Pavey 

Subject-Language: English; Code: ENG 
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Message 2: "syntactic priming": logarithmic decay?

Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2004 04:56:21 -0500 (EST)
From: Benedikt Szmrecsanyi <>
Subject: "syntactic priming": logarithmic decay?

I'm currently working on a PhD-project where I try to model speaker
behavior from naturalistic corpus data. I also include production
priming in my modelling, and find that persistence/priming effects
between two subsequent tokens in discourse (say, between two sites
where either an active or a passive could be used) decrease as the
textual distance between the two sites increases (i.e. as recency of
use decreases). This is as expected given previous psycholinguistic

The thing is, I find that the relation between the magnitude of
persistence/priming effects and textual distance is logarithmic,
i.e. the effect decays more rapidly when textual distance is small,
and more slowly when textual distance is large.

I couldn't find any hint in the pycholinguistic literature on
''priming'' as to whether my finding is plausible. Intuitively, I'd
say that it would make sense if such effects did not decay in, say, a
linear fashion, but I would like to back my claim up by some other,
maybe experimental, research. I'd therefore be glad for any pointer to
some piece of research that addresses the nature of the decay of

I promise I'll post a summary.
- Benedikt Szmrecsanyi 
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