Two visual-world eye-movement experiments investigated the nature of syntactic priming during comprehension-specifically, whether the printing effects in ditransitive prepositional object (PO) and double object (DO) structures (e.g., "The wizard will send the poison to the prince/the prince the poison") are due to anticipation of structural properties following the verb (send) in the target sentence or to anticipation of animacy properties of the first postverbal noun. Shortly following the target verb onset. listeners looked at the recipient more (relative to the theme) following DO than PO primes, indicating that the structure of the prime affected listeners' eye gazes on the target scene. Crucially, this priming effect was the same irrespective of whether the postverbal nouns in the prime sentences did ("The monarch will send the painting to the president") or did not ("The monarch will send the envoy to the president") differ in animacy, suggesting that PO/DO priming in comprehension occurs because structural properties, rather than animacy features, are being primed when people process the ditransitive target verb.
|Number of pages
|Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition
|Published - Sept 2008