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Priming Eva M. Fernández Queens College & Graduate Center City University of New York.

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Presentation on theme: "Priming Eva M. Fernández Queens College & Graduate Center City University of New York."— Presentation transcript:

1 Priming Eva M. Fernández Queens College & Graduate Center City University of New York

2 Priming in lexical access Sequence of related words results in faster response times (e.g., in lexical decision tasks) than sequence of unrelated words: DOCTOR (as target) will be primed by (non)words like: nurse, hospital… toctor (non-word), proctor (maybe?)… ORANGE will be primed by oradge, but PIN will not be primed by pit (neighborhood density) Lexicon is organized by frequency, as well as by form (lemmas) and meaning (lexemes)

3 Tips-of-the-tongue (TOTs) Gollan & Brown (2006) Laboratory induced TOTs with “easy” and “hard” words Variables examined: age, bilingualism Expt. 1: increased age leads to more TOTs for difficult but not for easy targets Expt. 2: bilinguals experience more TOTs than monolinguals for easy targets, fewer TOTs for difficult targets Data explained via a two-step process for lexical retrieval

4 Structural priming Intriguing application: Using corpus analysis to identify the idiolect of authors and thereby confirm (or disconfirm!) authorship Requisite assumption: priming of some sort? “Al hablar, al escribir, o mientras pensamos, no sólo elegimos las palabras; las palabras también nos buscan. O, por mejor decir, es el cerebro quien las busca tras haberlas guardado de un modo particular” (Madrigal, 2004, p. 219, ) Also linked (possibly) to studies of alignment from discourse analysis/sociolinguistics perspective

5 Structural priming An interesting way to examine the question of language independent (unitary) or language dependent (dual) sentence planning mechanisms How does priming occur? Residual activation of prime affects production of target “What time do you…?” v. “At what time do you…?” (Levelt & Kelter, 1982)

6 Explaining structural priming Structures (in English) that have been shown to cause priming: Dative alternation: Mary gave a book to her boyfriend / Mary gave her boyfriend a book Mary donated her inheritance to an orphanage / * Mary donated an orphanage her inheritance Passivization Mary read the book / The book was read by Mary

7 Explaining structural priming Lexically driven, or beyond the lexicon? “by”-locatives prime “by”-passives The 747 was landing by the airport tower. The banana was eaten by the gorilla. “to”-locatives prime “to”-datives The widow drove a BMW to the church. The gorilla gave the banana to Mowgli. (Bock & Loebell, 1990)

8 Explaining structural priming Perhaps treelets in a phrase-structure grammar are what’s activated: E.g., VP  V NP PP v. VP  V NP NP Bock (1989): do you get dative priming with the following? The cheerleader saved a seat for her friendYES The cheerleader gave a seat to her friendYES Susan brought a book to StellaYES Susan brought a book to studyNO (diff’t treelet)

9 Explaining structural priming In a lexical entry: Lemma: form representations Lexeme: essential meaning representation Lemmas (for verbs, presumably!) contain combinatorial nodes representing what syntactic categories can be combined with specific verbs (Hartsuiker et al., 2004; Pickering & Branigan, 1998), e.g., NP_NP NP_VP So is it so structural? It’s all activation of nodes in the lexicon! Lexical boost effect (Pickering & Branigan, 1998): priming is much stronger when verbs are identical in prime and target (e.g., give/give v. give/hand) Translation equivalence boost (Schoonbaert et al.): ditto, for translation equivalent verbs (e.g., give/geven v. give/aanreiken)

10 Priming passives in SP/EN bilinguals Hartsuiker et al. (2004) 24 Spanish native speakers, English as L2 22 months in UK, on average (2mos – 7 yrs) 15 used English at home more than Spanish 1 bilingual confederate 32 cards depicting an entity performing an action and another undergoing action, with a verb printed at the bottom Animacy of patients: 16 animate, 16 inanimate Agents always placed on right (location matters: Marcus, let’s talk about this!)

11 Priming passives in SP/EN bilinguals 32 targets + 96 fillers (actions describable with structures other than target) = 128 cards for naïve participant Participant picks up a card, produces a sentence (in English), thinks that the confederate is checking for meaning 128 cards for participant to check against confederate’s speech Confederate reads scripted text (in Spanish), participant checks for correspondence to picture (distractor task) Primes are (sic): ActivesEl taxi persigue el camión PassivesEl camión es perseguido por el taxi IntransitivesEl taxi accelera OVSsEl camión lo persigue un taxi

12 Priming passives in SP-EN bilinguals ActivesEl taxi persigue el camión PassivesEl camión es perseguido por el taxi IntransitivesEl taxi accelera OVSsEl camión lo persigue un taxi

13 Priming, Dutch/English bilinguals Desmet & Declerq (2006, Journal of Memory and Language, 54) 30 Dutch native speakers; 30 Dutch/English bilinguals (Drawn from same population? Difference between groups?) 24 targets, 24 primes, 51 fillers, in a written sentence-completion task For native speakers, everything in Dutch For bilinguals, about half of the materials in English; targets in English, primes in Dutch

14 Priming, Dutch/English bilinguals Targets (half plural N1, number agreement disambiguates): John ontmoette de bazin van de beniendes die…………………….. John met the boss of the employees who…………………………… Primes Die politie ondervroeg de veroorzaakster van het ongeval die……. Die politie ondervroeg de veroorzaakster van het ongeval dat……. Die politie ondervroeg de veroorzaakster van het ongeval nadat…. (The police interrogated the causer of the accident that/after…) NB: The relative pronoun die is used with masculine, feminine and plural antecedents (as the determiner de). The relative pronoun dat is only used with neuter antecedents (as the determiner het).

15 Priming, Dutch/English bilinguals

16 Priming, L2  L1: productive Conclusions… Shared syntax? (representations v. processing mechanisms) All lexically driven? More empirical evidence needed!


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