Cognitive accessibility predicts word order of couples' names in English and Japanese

Karina Tachihara, Adele E. Goldberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


We investigate the order in which speakers produce the proper names of couples they know personally in English and Japanese, two languages with markedly different constituent word orders. Results demonstrate that speakers of both languages tend to produce the name of the person they feel closer to before the name of the other member of the couple (N = 180). In this way, speakers' unique personal histories give rise to a remarkably systematic linguistic generalization in both English and Japanese. Insofar as closeness serves as an index of cognitive accessibility, the current work demonstrates that systematicity emerges from a domain-general property of memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-249
Number of pages19
JournalCognitive Linguistics
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language


  • English
  • Japanese
  • accessibility
  • binomials
  • word order


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