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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Title: Syntactic Priming
Author(s): Holly Branigan
Journal Title: Language and Linguistic Compass
Volume: 1
Issue: 1-2
Page Range: 1-16
Publication Date: Mar-2007
Abstract: Syntactic priming effects, or the tendency to repeat syntactic structure across otherwise unrelated utterances, have been extensively investigated over the last two decades. Because such effects rely upon the language processor recognising a syntactic relationship between two utterances, they offer a versatile behavioural tool for investigating how syntactic structure is represented by the human cognitive system. In this paper, we review existing evidence to show that such effects can be truly syntactic in nature, and that they suggest syntactic representations that in many ways resemble strikingly those proposed by theoretical linguists on the basis of nonbehavioural measures. We suggest that there is a surprising dichotomy between the pervasiveness of such effects in contexts involving language production and their apparent elusiveness in language comprehension. We consider how syntactic priming research can cast light on issues of theoretical linguistic interest, including language use in special populations, and evaluate alternative explanations for the effects.

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