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How multiple sources of experience influence bilingual syntactic choice: Immediate and cumulative cross-language effects of structural priming, verb bias, and language dominance*

  • GERRIT JAN KOOTSTRA (a1) (a2) and WILLEMIJN J. DOEDENS (a1)

Abstract

We investigated trial-by-trial and cumulative cross-language effects of structural priming and verb bias on L1 and L2 dative syntactic choices (e.g., ‘boy-give-ball-to-girl’ [PO structure] vs. ‘boy-give-girl-ball’ [DO structure]). Dutch-dominant Dutch–English bilinguals listened to a prime sentence with a DO or PO structure in one language and then described a picture in the other language, using verbs that varied in their bias towards the PO or DO structure in Dutch and English. We found effects of cross-language structural priming and verb bias on syntactic choice, some of which were influenced by the participants’ language dominance. In addition, we found cumulative forms of structural priming, leading to cross-language priming effects between experimental blocks. We discuss these results in terms of models on the representation of lexical and syntactic information in bilinguals, and point out how the observed effects can be related to experience-based mechanisms of language use and contact-induced language change.

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Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Gerrit Jan Kootstra, Windesheim University of Applied Sciences, Division of Human Movement and Education, Campus 2–6, P.O. Box 10090, 8000 GB Zwolle, the Netherlands gj.kootstra@windesheim.nl

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*

We would like to thank three anonymous reviewers for their comments on earlier versions of this paper. The research reported in this paper was supported by an ERC-Advanced grant (ERC-2008-AdG, SH5; ‘Traces of Contact: Language contact studies and historical linguistics’), awarded to Pieter Muysken (Radboud University Nijmegen). Parts of the writing of this paper were supported by NSF grant OISE-0968369 to Judith Kroll, Janet van Hell, and Paola Dussias (Pennsylvania State University). Gerrit Jan Kootstra is now at Windesheim University of Applied Sciences, Zwolle, the Netherlands.

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Keywords

How multiple sources of experience influence bilingual syntactic choice: Immediate and cumulative cross-language effects of structural priming, verb bias, and language dominance*

  • GERRIT JAN KOOTSTRA (a1) (a2) and WILLEMIJN J. DOEDENS (a1)

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