I'd have to agree with associative thinking as a start. The chains read perfectly to me. Following the "flower-plant-water-grow-bloom-seeds" example, each one builds not only on the proceeding word, but also the entire list. Just as "flower" and "water" had different next terms, they stayed within context. If I was given "water" as a starting point without "flower-outdoor" or "flower-plant" as a context, there are many more choices then just "grow" or "bloom".
As such, the entire context is taken, not just a simple linked list. Much uglier to code. 8) Each member of the list build on the entire connotation to focus. Any one item is virtually unlimited in potential associations. If we thought context-free, then every time we started thinking, we would be lost in a wonderland until we defined enough of what we were thinking about to give us roadmarks and help narrow our path to something we can deal with. In most cases, this is not the situation.
One aspect of this could be non-sequitors. They could be associations that fall outside the normal context, so they allow a large range of connections until focus is achieved. Any ideas?
Play word association in a social setting. Then play by e-mail where you only send on the current word. Look at the whole game afterwards. There should be a large difference in the flow of game, when in the former everyone heres the context, and in the later people only have the previous word. And this still isn't context free - you also have all of the previous "turns" that you've had a word come to you and submitted a word yourself. (Anyone want to code a quick CGI to try this with?)
...you might be eaten by a grue...
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