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Cross-language priming: A view from bilingual speech*


In the current paper we report on a study of priming of variable Spanish 1sg subject expression in spontaneous Spanish–English bilingual speech (based on the New Mexico Spanish–English Bilingual corpus, Torres Cacoullos & Travis, in preparation). We show both within- and cross-language Coreferential Subject Priming; however, cross-language priming from English to Spanish is weaker and shorter lived than within-language Spanish-to-Spanish priming, a finding that appears not to be attributable to lexical boost. Instead, interactions with subject continuity and verb type show that the strength of priming depends on co-occurring contextual features and particular [pronoun + verb] constructions, from the more lexically specific to the more schematically general. Quantitative patterns in speech thus offer insights unavailable from experimental work into the scope and locus of priming effects, suggesting that priming in bilingual discourse can serve to gauge degrees of strength of within- and cross-language associations between usage-based constructions.

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Bilingualism: Language and Cognition
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