Phrase Structure Priming Across Sentences: Facilitation or Reconfiguration?


Structural priming, the tendency for speakers to reuse the structures of recent utterances (Bock, 1986) or to produce repeated structures more fluently, is well documented for structural selection, but less so for phrase structure generation. Priming of structural choices is long-lived, persisting across intervening utterances (Bock & Griffin, 2000), but priming of phrase structure does not survive even one intervening sentence (Wheeldon & Smith, 2003), suggesting that the processes may be different. Moreover, although Smith & Wheeldon (2001) found an initiation latency benefit of initial noun phrase priming, the main verb (move/s) was also constant. Here, we report a noun phrase structure repetition effect only when the entire verb phrase was also repeated. Because this effect is better accounted for as plan reconfiguration than as structural priming, previous reports of phrase level structural priming need to be reassessed.

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