lexical-constructional model, argument construction, constructional template, processing, priming experiment, reaction time, teaching strategies


The notion of argument construction is widely accepted in Cognitive Linguistics circles as a highly explanatory theoretical construct. It has recently been incorporated into the Lexical-Constructional Model (LCM; Ruiz de Mendoza and Mairal 2007, 2008), a theoretical approach to meaning construction that integrates argument constructions into a broader model that incorporates meaning dimensions traditionally dealt with in the domain of pragmatics and discourse analysis. The LCM has an argument level of description, in the form of constructional templates, which are in general equivalent to the argument constructions postulated in Goldberg’s (1995, 2006) Construction Grammar, although there are crucial differences in the descriptive metalanguage and the principles used to explain their linguistic behavior. Since the LCM is geared to have psychological adequacy, like all cognitive (cf. Lakoff 1990) and some functional approaches to language (e.g. Dik 1997), it is essential to find to what extent the notion of argument construction is a real processing mechanism. This paper presents a priming experiment measuring reaction times to sentences that had the same formal configurations but were based on different argument constructions, and to sentences that were formally similar and embodied the same argument construction. Subjects responded significantly faster to target sentences that shared the same construction as the previously viewed sentences. Thus, constructions appear to be psychological entities that play an important role in linguistic processing. If this is correct, then it has potentially important consequences for planning adequate L2 teaching strategies.

Original Publication Citation

2010. “Argument Constructions and Language Processing: Evidence from a Priming Experiment and Pedagogical Implications.” Article coauthored with Francisco Ruiz de Mendoza. Fostering Language Teaching Efficiency Through Cognitive Linguistics, edited by Sabine de Knop, Frank Boers, and Antoon de Rycker, 213-238. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Mouton de Gruyter







University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor

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