Event Details

Thursday, September 22, 2016, 4:00 PM
Department of Linguistics
Seminar: Syntactic representations of balanced bilinguals: a cross-linguistic priming study


Message from Department of Linguistics HKU Linguistics Seminar Series Thursday 22 September 2016, 4:00-5:30 pm Room 4.34, 4/F Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU Yoonsang Song Syntactic representations of balanced bilinguals: a cross-linguistic priming study The current literature suggests that syntactic representations are shared between the two languages of bilinguals to at least some extent. However, it is not completely settled whether parallel syntactic constructions of the languages in bilinguals share a representation when the surface word orders of the constructions differ from each other. A number of studies have explored this issue, and their findings are not completely consistent. In addition, the existing studies of bilingual syntactic representation have looked at only a limited number of syntactic structures. The present study investigates whether bilinguals with two typologically distant languages, namely English and Korean, can have shared syntactic representations by testing whether cross-linguistic priming of the subject-to-object raising (SOR) construction (e.g., Mary believes Jerry to be trustworthy) occurs. Priming of this construction has not been tested yet by any previous studies in cross-linguistic contexts. Crucially, although the SOR construction exists in both of the languages, it employs different word orders in the two languages. The results of this study show that cross-linguistic priming of the SOR construction occurred, suggesting that parallel syntactic constructions of the languages in bilinguals can share a representation independent of surface word order. The results also lend support to the idea that the shared-syntax account can be generalized to different syntactic constructions. Yoonsang Song is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Hong Kong. His research interests reside in the domain of language acquisition and processing. In particular, his research focuses on the development of second language learners’ and early bilinguals’ mental grammars. He recently (2015) published the paper `L2 processing of plural inflection in English’ in Language Learning. 62(2). All are welcome.

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