The independence of syntactic processing in Mandarin: Evidence from structural priming

Jian Huang, Martin Pickering, Juanhua Yang, Suiping Wang, Holly Branigan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Although it is generally accepted that syntactic information is processed independently semantic information in languages such as English, there is less agreement about whether the same is true in languages such as Mandarin that have fewer reliable cues to syntactic structure. We report five experiments that used a structural priming paradigm to investigate the independence of syntactic processing in Mandarin. In a recognition memory task, Mandarin native speakers described ditransitive events after repeating prime sentences with a double object (DO) or prepositional object (PO) structure. Participants tended to repeat syntactic structure across prime and target sentences. Critically, this tendency occurred whether or not semantic features (animacy of the recipient) were also repeated across sentences, both when the verb was repeated and when it was not. We conclude that Mandarin speakers compute independent syntactic representations during language processing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-98
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Early online date22 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


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