Shared syntactic representations in bilinguals
Evidence from the constituent-structure-independent passive priming between Cantonese and English
The current study explores the nature of constituent-structure-independent structural priming across the two languages of bilinguals. Specifically, this study tests whether such cross-linguistic priming involves the priming of functional-level syntactic representations shared between the languages, which can be distinguished from the priming of mainly non-syntactic information (e.g., information structure, thematic-role order). Critical prime sentences consisted of Cantonese actives in the Object-Subject-Verb (OSV) order and passives where the patient was grammatically topicalized with the same topic particle. Target responses were produced in English actives or passives. The results show that robust priming from Cantonese Topic-Passives to English passives occurred, but no cross-linguistic priming was observed for Cantonese Topic-OSV active primes. The Topic-OSV active and Topic-Passive constructions share information structure, and are formed in different constituent structures from English actives and passives. Therefore, the robust cross-linguistic passive priming by Topic-Passive primes should in large part be ascribed to functional-level syntactic representations of passive constructions shared by Cantonese and English.
Keywords: structural priming, cross-linguistic priming, shared-syntax account, bilingual language processing, Cantonese
- 1.1Cross-linguistic structural priming and the shared-syntax account
- 1.2Alternative interpretations of cross-linguistic structural priming
- 1.3Present study
Published online: 18 January 2021
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