What kind of priming is most effective in the processing of relative clauses in context?

Zhaohong Wu, Alan Juffs


This paper examines the influence of different kinds of preceding contexts on the processing of Chinese relative clauses (RCs). We systematically compared the processing of RCs in a canonical, non-canonical, and "null" context. This paper is the first to systematically examine three accounts of priming (the thematic pattern priming account proposed by Lin (2014), in addition to both the verb phrase constituent priming account and the syntactic position sequence priming account proposed by Fedorenko, Piantadosi, and Gibson (2012)) in RC processing. Results showed discrepancies between predictions from each priming account and the actual results. None of the three priming accounts could sufficiently explain the results in Chinese. Alternative possible explanations were suggested, including: (1) having a context makes RC reading more natural and frequency effects less obvious; (2) the NPs inside the RCs are primed by the original thematic roles or grammatical functions of same NPs in the critical context sentence; (3) an interplay of all three different kinds of priming in the processing of RCs in context may occur.


priming; processing; relative clauses; Chinese; preceding context; thematic pattern

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.3765/plsa.v1i0.3728

Copyright (c) 2016 Zhaohong Wu, Alan Juffs

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