The Influence of Conceptual Structure on Structural Priming

Abstract

This priming study investigates the role of conceptual structure during language production, probing how English speakers encode information about motion events. Participants read prime sentences aloud before describing dynamic motion events. Primes differed in 1) syntactic frame, 2) distribution of manner and path elements within frames, and 3) degree of conceptual overlap with target events. Results demonstrate that the conceptual level of representation matters during production: structural priming decreased as degree of conceptual overlap between primes and targets decreased, and became nonexistent when there was no overlap. Conceptual overlap also weakly licensed priming of the mapping of event components to syntactic positions.


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