The Role of Syntax in Sentence Recall

Richardson, John T. E. (1976). The Role of Syntax in Sentence Recall. Language and Speech, 19(4) pp. 318–323.


The transformational complexity of a sentence has been alleged to affect its memorability. Using unprompted free recall, this was found to be true only of the question transformation. This effect could not be explained in terms of the confounded variables of imageability and concreteness, which did not correlate with performance in this study. Syntactically related errors tended to reduce the transformational complexity of the original sentence. The results of an analysis of these errors were inconsistent with the traditional grammatical categorization of sentences.

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