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Language and Development in Africa

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Academic Paper


Title: Cross-linguistic syntactic priming in bilingual children
Author: Marina Vasilyeva
Institution: Boston College
Author: Heidi R Waterfall
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Cornell University
Author: Perla B Gámez
Institution: University of Chicago
Author: Ligia E Gómez
Institution: Boston College
Author: Edmond Bowers
Institution: Tufts University
Author: Priya Mariana Shimpi
Institution: Mills College
Linguistic Field: Psycholinguistics; Syntax
Subject Language: English
Spanish
Abstract: Previous research has used cross-linguistic priming methodology with bilingual adults to explore the nature of their syntactic representations. The present paper extends the use of this methodology to bilingual children to investigate the relation between the syntactic structures of their two languages. Specifically, we examined whether the use of passives by the experimenter in one language primed the subsequent use of passives by the child in the other language. Results showed evidence of syntactic priming from Spanish to English: hearing a Spanish sentence containing a passive led to the increase in children's production of the parallel structure in English. However, there was no priming in the other direction: hearing an English sentence containing a passive did not increase children's use of the parallel structure in Spanish. These results provide evidence for both the integration of syntactic representations in bilingual children and the asymmetry of the relation between their two languages.

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This article appears IN Journal of Child Language Vol. 37, Issue 5, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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