26/03/2014 Psychology
DOI: 10.1080/01690965.2013.766355 SemanticScholar ID: 143570551 MAG: 2006706472

The effect of linguistic nativeness on structural priming in comprehension

Publication Summary

The role of linguistic experience in structural priming is unclear. Although it is explicitly predicted that experience contributes to priming effects on several theoretical accounts, to date the empirical data has been mixed. To investigate this issue, we conducted four sentence-picture-matching experiments that primed for the comprehension of object relative clauses in L1 and proficient L2 speakers of German. It was predicted that an effect of experience would only be observed in instances where priming effects are likely to be weak in experienced L1 speakers. In such circumstances, priming should be stronger in L2 speakers because of their comparative lack of experience using and processing the L2 test structures. The experiments systematically manipulated the primes to decrease lexical and conceptual overlap between primes and targets. The results supported the hypothesis: in two of the four studies, the L2 group showed larger priming effects in comparison to the L1 group. This effect only occurred when animacy differences were introduced between the prime and target. The results suggest that linguistic experience as operationalised by nativeness affects the strength of priming, specifically in cases where there is a lack of lexical and conceptual overlap between prime and target.

CAER Authors

Avatar Image for Ludovica Serratrice

Prof. Ludovica Serratrice

Reading University - Professor of multilingualism

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