Chapter 9. Structural priming in comprehension of relative clause sentences

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The current chapter discusses a structural priming experiment that investigated the on-line processing of English subject- and object- relative clauses. Sixty-one monolingual English-speaking adults participated in a self-paced reading experiment where they read prime-target pairs that fully crossed the relativised element within the relative clause (subject- versus object) across prime and target sentences. Following probabilistic theories of sentence processing, which predict that low frequency structures like object relatives are subject to greater priming effects due to their marked status, it was hypothesised that the normally-observed subject RC processing advantage would be eliminated following priming. The hypothesis was supported, identifying an important role for structural frequency in the processing of relative clause structures.


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