Syntactic priming in comprehension: Parallelism effects with and without coordination

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Abstract

Although previous research has shown a processing facilitation for conjoined phrases that share the same structure, it is currently not clear whether this parallelism advantage is specific to particular syntactic environments such as coordination, or whether it is an example of more general effect in sentence comprehension. Here, we report three eye-tracking experiments that test for parallelism effects both in coordinated noun phrases and in subordinate clauses. The first experiment replicated previous findings, showing that the second conjunct of a coordinated noun phrase was read more quickly when it had the same structure as the first conjunct, compared with when it did not. Experiment 2 examined parallelism effects in noun phrases that were not linked by coordination. Again, a reading time advantage was found when the second noun phrase had the same structure as the first. Experiment 3 compared parallelism effects in coordinated and non-coordinated syntactic environments. The parallelism effect was replicated for both environments, and was statistically equivalent whether or not coordination was involved. This demonstrated that parallelism effects can be found outside the environment of coordination, suggesting a general syntactic priming mechanism as the underlying explanation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-351
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Volume62
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2010

Keywords

  • Sentence processing
  • Parallelism
  • Syntactic priming

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