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Horses for courses: When acceptability judgments are more suitable than structural priming (and vice versa)

  • Ben Ambridge (a1)

Although structural priming is often the most suitable paradigm, it sometimes misses effects that are detected by more sensitive acceptability-judgment tasks, thus yielding incorrect conclusions. For example, Branigan & Pickering's (B&P's) claim that “syntactic representations do not contain semantic information” (sect. 2.1, para. 2), while supported by structural-priming studies of the passive, is undermined by an acceptability-judgment study of this construction.

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Ambridge, B., Bidgood, A., Pine, J. M., Rowland, C. F. & Freudenthal, D. (2016) Is passive syntax semantically constrained? Evidence from adult grammaticality judgment and comprehension studies. Cognitive Science 40(6):1435–59. doi: 10.1111/cogs.12277.
Messenger, K., Branigan, H. P. & McLean, J. F. (2012a) Is children's acquisition of the passive a staged process? Evidence from six- and nine-year-olds' production of passives. Journal of Child Language 39(5):9911016.
Messenger, K., Branigan, H. P., McLean, J. F. & Sorace, A. (2012b) Is young children's passive syntax semantically constrained? Evidence from syntactic priming. Journal of Memory and Language 66(4):568–87. doi:10.1016/j.jml.2012.03.008.
Pinker, S., Lebeaux, D. S. & Frost, L. A. (1987) Productivity and constraints in the acquisition of the passive. Cognition 26(3):195267.
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Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • ISSN: 0140-525X
  • EISSN: 1469-1825
  • URL: /core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences
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