Syntactic priming across highly similar languages is not affected by language proficiency

Shun Liu, Danping Hong, Jian Huang, Suiping Wang, Xiqin Liu, Holly P. Branigan, Martin J. Pickering

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This study explores the mechanism underlying shared syntactic representations for highly similar languages by investigating whether cross-linguistic syntactic priming is affected by language proficiency. In two experiments, native (L1) Mandarin-Chaoshanese speakers with moderate proficiency in Cantonese (L2) heard Chaoshanese and Cantonese dative sentences with a prepositional object (PO) or a double object (DO) structure, and then completed a description of a depicted ditransitive event using Mandarin. Priming from L2 to L1 was equal to that from L1 to L1, irrespective of whether the prime and the target involved cognate verbs. Similarly, priming from L2 to L1 was not affected by speakers’ L2 proficiency, suggesting that shared representations across highly similar languages are insensitive to language proficiency. We interpret the results in terms of the development of shared representations for highly similar languages.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLanguage, Cognition and Neuroscience
Early online date27 Oct 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Oct 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • multilingualism
  • syntactic representation
  • cross-linguistic priming
  • highly similar languages


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