Volume 17, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1877-9751
  • E-ISSN: 1877-976X
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



This article reports empirical evidence of constructional priming effects in L2 learners of English and Italian. The well-known pioneering experiment carried out by Bencini and Goldberg (2000) with L1 speakers of English paved the way for our investigation. We employed the same protocol to ascertain whether constructions have an ontological status also in the mind of L2 learners. We conducted experiments with four groups of learners whose language proficiency levels correspond to the B1 and B2 levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). The results we obtained in our cross-linguistic experiments demonstrate that learners are reliant on constructional templates when they are required to produce linguistic generalizations.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Achard, M.
    (2008) Teaching construal: Cognitive pedagogical grammar. InP. Robinson & N. Ellis (Eds.), Handbook of cognitive linguistics and second language acquisition (pp.432–455). New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Baicchi, A.
    (2015) Construction learning as a complex adaptive system: Psycholinguistic evidence from L2 learners of English. Berlin: Springer. 10.1007/978‑3‑319‑18269‑8
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-18269-8 [Google Scholar]
  3. (2016) The role of syntax and semantics in constructional priming: Experimental evidence from Italian university learners of English through a sentence-elicitation task. InS. de Knop & G. Gilquin (Eds.), Applied construction grammar (pp.211–236). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110458268‑009
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110458268-009 [Google Scholar]
  4. Bencini, G., & Goldberg, A.
    (2000) The contribution of argument structure constructions to sentence meaning. Journal of Memory and Language, 43, 640–651. 10.1006/jmla.2000.2757
    https://doi.org/10.1006/jmla.2000.2757 [Google Scholar]
  5. Bock, K.
    (1986) Syntactic persistence in language production. Cognitive Psychology, 18, 355–387. 10.1016/0010‑0285(86)90004‑6
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0010-0285(86)90004-6 [Google Scholar]
  6. Boers, F.
    (2013) Cognitive Linguistic approaches to second language vocabulary: Assessment and integration. Language Teaching, 46, 208–224. 10.1017/S0261444811000450
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0261444811000450 [Google Scholar]
  7. De Knop, S., Boers, F., & de Rycker, A.
    (Eds.) (2010) Fostering language teaching efficiency through cognitive linguistics. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110245837
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110245837 [Google Scholar]
  8. De Rycker, A., & De Knop, S.
    (2008) (Eds.). Cognitive approaches to pedagogical grammar. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. (2009) Integrating Cognitive Linguistics and foreign language teaching: Historical background and new developments. Journal of Modern Languages, 19(1), 29–46.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Della Putta, P.
    (2015) Discouraging constructional negative transfer: Theoretical aspects and classroom activities for Spanish-speaking students of L2 Italian. InK. Masuda, C. Arnett, & A. Labarca (Eds.), Cognitive linguistics and sociocultural theory (pp.25–49). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 10.1515/9781614514442‑004
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9781614514442-004 [Google Scholar]
  11. Desmet, T., & Declercq, M.
    (2006) Cross-linguistic priming of syntactic hierarchical configuration information. Journal of Memory and Language, 54, 610–632. 10.1016/j.jml.2005.12.007
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2005.12.007 [Google Scholar]
  12. Eddington, D., & Ruiz de Mendoza, F. J.
    (2010) Argument structure constructions and language processing. InS. de Knop, F. Boers, & A. de Rycher (Eds.), Fostering language teaching efficiency through cognitive linguistics (pp.213–238). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Ellis, N. C., & Sagarra, N.
    (2010) The bounds of adult language acquisition: Blocking and learned attention. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 32(4), 553–580. 10.1017/S0272263110000264
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263110000264 [Google Scholar]
  14. (2011) Learned attention in adult language acquisition: a replication and generalization study and meta-analysis. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 33, 589–624. 10.1017/S0272263111000325
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263111000325 [Google Scholar]
  15. Evans Davies, C.
    (2018) On the relationship between interaction and language learning: A usage-based perspective grounded in interactional sociolinguistics. InA. Tyler, L. Ortega, M. Uno, & H. I. Park (Eds.), Usage-inspired L2 instruction (pp.75–94). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/lllt.49.04dav
    https://doi.org/10.1075/lllt.49.04dav [Google Scholar]
  16. Feldman, S., & Weld, H. P.
    (1939) Perception. InE. G. Boring, S. H. Langfeld, H. P. Weld, (Eds.), Introduction to psychology (pp.411–438). New York: John Wiley. 10.1037/11249‑013
    https://doi.org/10.1037/11249-013 [Google Scholar]
  17. Ferreira, V.
    (2003) The persistence of optional complementizer production. Journal of Memory and Language, 48, 379–398. 10.1016/S0749‑596X(02)00523‑5
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0749-596X(02)00523-5 [Google Scholar]
  18. Goldberg, A.
    (1995) Constructions: A construction grammar approach to argument structure. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. (2006) Constructions at work: The nature of generalization in language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Gries, S., & Wulff, S.
    (2005) Do foreign language learners also have constructions?: Evidence from priming, sorting, and corpora. Annual Review of Cognitive Linguistics, 3, 182–200. 10.1075/arcl.3.10gri
    https://doi.org/10.1075/arcl.3.10gri [Google Scholar]
  21. Hartsuiker, R., Kolk, H., & Hiuskamp, P.
    (1999) Priming word order in sentence production. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 52A, 129–147. 10.1080/713755798
    https://doi.org/10.1080/713755798 [Google Scholar]
  22. Hartsuiker, R., Pickering, M., & Veltkamp, E.
    (2004) Is syntax separate or shared between languages?Psychological Science, 15, 409–414. 10.1111/j.0956‑7976.2004.00693.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0956-7976.2004.00693.x [Google Scholar]
  23. Healy, A., & Miller, G.
    (1970) The verb as the main determinant of sentence meaning. Psychonomic Science, 20, 372. 10.3758/BF03335697
    https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03335697 [Google Scholar]
  24. Holme, R.
    (2010) Construction grammars: Towards a pedagogical model. AILA Review, 23, 115–133. 10.1075/aila.23.07hol
    https://doi.org/10.1075/aila.23.07hol [Google Scholar]
  25. (2012) Cognitive linguistics and the second language class. TESOL Quarterly, 46, 6–29. 10.1002/tesq.5
    https://doi.org/10.1002/tesq.5 [Google Scholar]
  26. Jacobsen, N.
    (2015) Using cognitive linguistics and sociocultural theory for second language teaching. InK. Masuda, C. Arnett, & A. Labarca (Eds.), Cognitive linguistics and sociocultural theory (pp.103–126). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Kersten, A., & Billman, D.
    (1997) Event category learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 23, 638–658.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Landauer, T. K., & Dumais, S. T.
    (1997) A solution to Plato’s problem: The latent semantic analysis theory of acquisition, induction, and representation of knowledge. Psychological Review, 104(2), 211–240. 10.1037/0033‑295X.104.2.211
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-295X.104.2.211 [Google Scholar]
  29. Landauer, T., Foltz, P., & Laham, D.
    (1998) An introduction to latent semantic analysis. Discourse Processes, 25, 259–284. 10.1080/01638539809545028
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01638539809545028 [Google Scholar]
  30. Lashley, K.
    (1951) The problem of serial order in behaviour. InL. Jeffress (Ed.), Cerebral mechanisms in behaviour (pp.112–136). New York: Wiley.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Lassaline, M., & Murphy, G.
    (1996) Induction and category coherence. Psychonomic Bullettin and Review, 3(1), 95–99. 10.3758/BF03210747
    https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03210747 [Google Scholar]
  32. Levin, B.
    (2008) Dative verbs: A crosslinguistics perspective. Lingvisticæ Investigationes, 31, 285–312. 10.1075/li.31.2.12lev
    https://doi.org/10.1075/li.31.2.12lev [Google Scholar]
  33. Liang, J.
    (2002) How do Chinese EFL learners construct sentence meaning. M.A. thesis, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies.
  34. Libben, G., & Jarema, G.
    (2002) Mental lexicon research in the new millennium. Brain and Language, 81(1–3), 2–11. 10.1006/brln.2002.2654
    https://doi.org/10.1006/brln.2002.2654 [Google Scholar]
  35. Littlemore, J.
    (2009) Applying cognitive linguistics to second language learning and teaching. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 10.1057/9780230245259
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230245259 [Google Scholar]
  36. Loebell, H., & Bock, K.
    (2003) Structural priming across languages. Linguistics, 41, 791–794. 10.1515/ling.2003.026
    https://doi.org/10.1515/ling.2003.026 [Google Scholar]
  37. Mateu, J., & Rigau, G.
    (2010) Verb-particle constructions in Romance: A lexical-syntactic account. Probus, 22, 241–269. 10.1515/prbs.2010.009
    https://doi.org/10.1515/prbs.2010.009 [Google Scholar]
  38. Martínez Vázquez, M.
    (2004) Learning argument structure generalizations in a foreign language. VIAL, 1, 151–165.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Medin, D. L., Wattemaker, W., & Hampson, S.
    (1987) Family resemblance, conceptual cohesiveness, and category construction. Cognitive Psychology, 12, 242–279. 10.1016/0010‑0285(87)90012‑0
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0010-0285(87)90012-0 [Google Scholar]
  40. Meyer, D., & Schvaneveldt, R.
    (1971) Facilitation in recognising pairs of words. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 90, 227–234. 10.1037/h0031564
    https://doi.org/10.1037/h0031564 [Google Scholar]
  41. Murphy, G. L.
    (2002) The big book of concepts. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 10.7551/mitpress/1602.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/1602.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  42. Noora, S.
    (2009) Iranian undergraduate non-English majors’ interpretation of English structures. GEMA, 9(2), 89–100.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Pedersen, J.
    (2009a) The construction of macro-events: A typological perspective. InC. Butler & J. M. Arista (Eds.), Deconstructing constructions (pp.25–62). Amsterdam/New York: John Benjamins. 10.1075/slcs.107.04the
    https://doi.org/10.1075/slcs.107.04the [Google Scholar]
  44. (2009b) Lexical and constructional organization of argument structure: A contrastive analysis. InJ. Zlatev, M. Andrén, M. Johansson Falck, & C. Lundmark (Eds.), Studies in language and cognition (pp.230–245). Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. Regehr, G., & Brooks, L. R.
    (1995) Category organization in free classification. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 21, 347–363.
    [Google Scholar]
  46. Ruiz de Mendoza, F. J., & Mairal Usón, R.
    (2008) Levels of description and constraining factors in meaning construction: An introduction to the lexical constructional model. Folia Linguistica, 42(2), 355–400.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Ruiz de Mendoza, F. J., & Agustín Llach, M.
    (2016) Cognitive Pedagogical Grammar and meaning construction in L2. InS. de Knop & G. Gilquin (Eds.), Applied construction grammar (pp.151–184). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 10.1515/9783110458268‑007
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110458268-007 [Google Scholar]
  48. Segal, S. J., & Cofer, C. N.
    (1960) The effect of recency and recall on word association. American Psychologist, 15, 451.
    [Google Scholar]
  49. Sepassi, F., & Kamyab, P.
    (2005) Iranian university students’ preference for verb centered vs. construction cues to sentence structure. The Asian EFL Journal, 7(5). RetrievedMay 13, 2018, fromwww.asian-efl-journal.com
    [Google Scholar]
  50. Sinha, C. & Kuteva, T.
    (1995) Distributed Spatial Semantics. Nordic Journal of Linguistics, 18, 167–199. 10.1017/S0332586500000159
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0332586500000159 [Google Scholar]
  51. Storms, L. H.
    (1958) Apparent backward association: a situational effect. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 55(4), 390–395. 10.1037/h0044258
    https://doi.org/10.1037/h0044258 [Google Scholar]
  52. Talmy, L.
    (2000) Toward a cognitive semantics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  53. Torre, E.
    (2012) Symmetry and asymmetry in Italian caused-motion constructions: An Embodied Construction Grammar approach. Constructions, 1. Retrieved from: elanguage.net/journals/index.php/constructions
    [Google Scholar]
  54. Tulving, E., Schacter, D. L., & Stark, H. A.
    (1982) Priming effects in word-fragment completion are independent of recognition memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 8(4), 336–342.
    [Google Scholar]
  55. Tyler, A., & Ortega, L.
    (2018) Usage-inspired L2 instruction: An emergent, researched pedagogy. InA. Tyler, L. Ortega, M. Uno, & H. I. Park (Eds.), Usage-inspired L2 instruction (pp.3–28). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/lllt.49.01tyl
    https://doi.org/10.1075/lllt.49.01tyl [Google Scholar]
  56. Valenzuela, J., & Rojo, A.
    (2007) On the existence of constructions in foreign language learners. InR. Monroy & A. Sánchez (Eds.), 25 años de Lingüística en España (pp.907–912). Murcia: Editum.
    [Google Scholar]
  57. Washio, R.
    (1997) Resultatives, compositionality and language variation. Journal of East Asian Linguistics, 6, 1–49. 10.1023/A:1008257704110
    https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1008257704110 [Google Scholar]
  58. Wolter, B., & Yamashita, J.
    (2018) Word frequency, collocational frequency, L1 congruency, and proficiency in L2 collocational processing: What accounts for L2 performance?Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 40(2), 395–416. 10.1017/S0272263117000237
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263117000237 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error