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ERIC Number: ED533722
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 317
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1248-2764-3
ISSN: N/A
An Investigation of Syntactic Priming among German Speakers at Varying Proficiency Levels
Ruf, Helena T.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The University of Wisconsin - Madison
This dissertation investigates syntactic priming in second language (L2) development among three speaker populations: (1) less proficient L2 speakers; (2) advanced L2 speakers; and (3) LI speakers. Using confederate scripting this study examines how German speakers choose certain word orders in locative constructions (e.g., "Auf dem Tisch steht eine Lampe" "On the table stands a lamp" vs. "Eine Lampe steht auf dem Tisch" "A lamp stands on the table"). Syntactic priming is hypothesized to serve two functions: a long-term, implicit learning function and a short-term, alignment in dialogue function. Lexical overlap between what participants hear and what they produce is thought to influence which function is relevant. To test this hypothesis, this dissertation investigated how lexical overlap and increased exposure to particular word orders affected production and directly compared the results from the three speaker populations. Results indicated that although overall priming levels were similar across the different speaker groups, less proficient L2 speakers primed only superficially. Unlike their more advanced counterparts, these speakers displayed only weak priming when lexical overlap was absent. Moreover, increased exposure to fronted locative constructions did not influence the production of such constructions among less proficient L2 speakers during a post-priming phase as compared to a baseline phase, whereas the other speaker groups showed increased production. All speaker populations showed greater susceptibility to priming (i.e., a lexical boost) when the prepositional phrase was repeated than when it was not, although this lexical boost did not lead to increased fronted locative production during post-priming, regardless of proficiency level. Select participants were interviewed after the experiment regarding their possible conscious awareness of syntactic priming. A second experiment using only less proficient L2 speakers manipulated the amount of lexical overlap, specifically testing the effect of repeating the preposition. Results indicated that priming had a tendency to increase as lexical overlap increased and that repeating just the object within the prepositional phrase provided a sufficient boost to priming. The theoretical, methodological, and pedagogical implications of these results for research on bilingualism in psycholinguistics and second language acquisition are discussed. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page: http://www.proquest.com/en-US/products/dissertations/individuals.shtml.]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Germany