GERNSBACHER, M. A., & HARGREAVES, D. (1992). The privilege of primacy: Experimental data and cognitive explanations. In D. L. Payne (Ed.), Pragmatics of word order flexibility (pp. 83-116). Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
In this chapter we first review the primacy effects that occur during language comprehension. We then interpret those primacy effects according to the view that language comprehension draws on general cognitive processes; the first process is to lay a foundation for the information being comprehended. Next we review some of our empirical evidence for this claim. We then turn our attention toward primacy effects that occur during language production, at the clause, sentence, and discourse level. Again, we argue that general cognitive processes underlie the order in which lexical items are chosen and utterances are produced. Finally, we consider the generality of our claims about primacy effects in language comprehension and language production by exploring cross-linguistic corroborations.