Advertisement

Priming semantic structure in Brazilian Portuguese

  • Jayden ZieglerEmail author
  • Rodrigo Morato
  • Jesse Snedeker
Research Paper
  • 8 Downloads

Abstract

Structural priming, the tendency for speakers to reuse previously encountered sentence structures, provides some of the strongest evidence for the existence of abstract structural representations in language. In the present research, we investigate the priming of semantic structure in Brazilian Portuguese using the locative alternation: A menina lustrou a mesa com o verniz “The girl rubbed the table with the polish” vs. A menina lustrou o verniz na mesa “The girl rubbed the polish on the table.” On the surface, both locative variants have the same syntactic structure: NP-V-NP-PP. However, location-theme locatives (“rub table with polish” describe a caused-change-of-state event, while theme-location locatives (“rub polish on table”) describe a caused-change-of-location event. We find robust priming on the basis of these semantic differences. This work extends our knowledge by demonstrating that semantic structural priming is not isolated to languages like English (e.g., satellite-framed with strict word order and limited inflection) but is present in a language with very different typological characteristics (e.g., verb-framed and richly inflected with subject dropping).

Keywords

Structural priming Semantic structure Locative alternation Brazilian Portuguese 

Notes

Acknowledgements

During the collection and writing up of this research, RM was supported by a Fulbright grant on exchange at Harvard University. Special thanks to Chrissie Carvalho for assistance with coding.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

References

  1. Abreu Gomes, C. (2003). Dative alternation in Brazilian Portuguese: Typology and constraints. Language Design: Journal of Theoretical and Experimental Linguistics, 5, 67–78.Google Scholar
  2. Anderson, J. M. (1971). The grammar of case. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Baayen, R. H., Davidson, D. J., & Bates, D. M. (2008). Mixed-effects modeling with crossed random effects for subjects and items. Journal of Memory and Language, 59(4), 390–412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baker, M. C. (1988). Incorporation: A theory of grammatical function changing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  5. Baker, M. C. (1997). Thematic roles and syntactic structure. In L. Haegeman (Ed.), Elements of grammar (pp. 73–137). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barr, D. J., Levy, R., Scheepers, C., & Tily, H. J. (2013). Random effects structure for confirmatory hypothesis testing: Keep it maximal. Journal of Memory and Language, 68(3), 255–278.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2012.11.001.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bates, D. M. (2010). lme4: Mixed-effects modeling with R. http://lme4.r-forge.r-project.org/book/.
  8. Beavers, J., Levin, B., & Tham, S. W. (2010). The typology of motion events revisited. Journal of Linguistics, 46, 331–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bock, J. K. (1986). Syntactic persistence in language production. Cognitive Psychology, 18, 355–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bock, K. (1989). Closed-class immanence in sentence production. Cognition, 31, 163–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bock, K., & Loebell, H. (1990). Framing sentences. Cognition, 35, 1–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bock, K., Loebell, H., & Morey, R. (1992). From conceptual roles to structural relations: Bridging the syntactic cleft. Psychological Review, 99, 150–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Branigan, H. P. (2007). Syntactic priming. Language and Linguistics Compass, 1(1–2), 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Branigan, H. P., & Pickering, M. J. (2017). An experimental approach to linguistic representation. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 40, e282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Bresnan, J. (1982). The passive in grammatical theory. In J. Bresnan (Ed.), The mental representation of grammatical relations (pp. 3–86). Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  16. Cai, Z. G., Pickering, M. J., & Branigan, H. P. (2012). Mapping concepts to syntax: Evidence from structural priming in Mandarin Chinese. Journal of Memory and Language, 66(4), 833–849.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Cai, Z. G., Pickering, M. J., Yan, H., & Branigan, H. P. (2011). Lexical and syntactic representations in closely related languages: Evidence from Cantonese–Mandarin bilinguals. Journal of Memory and Language, 65(4), 431–445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Chang, F., Bock, K., & Goldberg, A. E. (2003). Can thematic roles leave traces of their places? Cognition, 90, 29–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Cho-Reyes, S., Mack, J. E., & Thompson, C. K. (2016). Grammatical encoding and learning in agrammatic aphasia: Evidence from structural priming. Journal of Memory and Language, 91, 202–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Chomsky, N. (1965). Aspects of the theory of syntax. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  21. Culicover, P. W., & Jackendoff, R. (2005). Simpler syntax. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Felicio, A. R. (2018). Cross-linguistic syntactic priming effects in sentence comprehension: A study with Brazilian Portuguese-bilinguals (Master’s thesis). Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, Brazil.Google Scholar
  23. Fillmore, C. J. (1968). The case for case. In E. Bach & R. T. Harms (Eds.), Universals in linguistic theory (pp. 1–88). New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.Google Scholar
  24. Gámez, P. B., & Vasilyeva, M. (2015). Exploring interactions between semantic and syntactic processes: The role of animacy in syntactic priming. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 138, 15–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Goldberg, A. E. (1995). Constructions: A construction grammar approach to argument structure. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  26. Goldberg, A. E. (2006). Constructions at work: The nature of generalization in language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Gonçalves, R. (2015). Romance languages do not have double objects: Evidence from European Portuguese and Spanish. Estudos de Lingüística Galega, 7, 53–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Griffin, Z. M., & Weinstein-Tull, J. (2003). Conceptual structure modulates structural priming in the production of complex sentences. Journal of Memory and Language, 49, 537–555.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Gruber, J. (1965). Studies in lexical relations (Doctoral dissertation). Cambridge, MA: MIT.Google Scholar
  30. Gureckis, T. M., Martin, J., McDonnell, J., Rich, A. S., Markant, D., Coenen, A., et al. (2016). psiTurk: An open-source framework for conducting replicable behavioral experiments online. Behavioral Research Methods, 48(3), 829–842.  https://doi.org/10.3758/s13428-015-0642-8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hall, M. L., Ferreira, V. S., & Mayberry, R. I. (2015). Syntactic priming in American Sign Language. PLoS One, 10(3), e0119611.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hare, M. L., & Goldberg, A. E. (1999). Structural priming: Purely syntactic? In M. Hahn & S. C. Stones (Eds.), Proceedings of the 21st annual meeting of the cognitive science society (pp. 208–211). Mahwah: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  33. Hartsuiker, R. J., Pickering, M. J., & Veltkamp, E. (2004). Is syntax separate or shared between languages? Cross-linguistic syntactic priming in Spanish–English bilinguals. Psychological Science, 15(6), 409–414.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jackendoff, R. S. (1972). Semantic interpretation in generative grammar. Cambridge: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  35. Jackendoff, R. S. (1990). Semantic structures. Cambridge: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  36. Jackendoff, R. (2002). Foundations of language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Jaeger, T. F. (2008). Categorical data analysis: Away from ANOVAs (transformation or not) and towards logit mixed models. Journal of Memory and Language, 59(4), 434–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kantola, L., & van Gompel, R. P. G. (2011). Between- and within-language priming is the same: Evidence for shared bilingual syntactic representations. Memory & Cognition, 39(2), 276–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Katz, J. J., & Postal, P. M. (1964). An integrated theory of linguistic descriptions. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  40. Köhne, J., Pickering, M. J., & Branigan, H. P. (2014). The relationship between sentence meaning and word order: Evidence from structural priming in German. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 67(2), 304–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Kramer, R. (2016). O efeito do priming sintático na leitura de sentenças na voz passiva por bons e maus leitores dos 5o. e 6o. Anos do Ensino Fundamental (The effect of syntactic priming on passive sentence reading by good and bad readers in grades 5 and 6 of elementary school; Doctoral dissertation). Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil.Google Scholar
  42. Kuerten, A. B., Mota, M. B., Segaert, K., & Hagoort, P. (2016). Syntactic priming effects in dyslexic children: A study in Brazilian Portuguese. Poster presented at the 22nd annual conference on architectures and mechanisms for language processing, Bilbao, Spain.Google Scholar
  43. Kutasi, T., Suffill, E., Gibb, C. L., Sorace, A., Pickering, M. J., & Branigan, H. P. (2018). Shared representation of passives across Scottish Gaelic and English: Evidence from structural priming. Journal of Cultural Cognitive Science, 2(1–2), 1–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Larson, R. K. (1988). On the double object construction. Linguistic Inquiry, 19, 334–391.Google Scholar
  45. Levin, B. (1993). English verb classes and alternations: A preliminary investigation. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  46. Levin, B., & Rappaport Hovav, M. (2019). Lexicalization patterns. In R. Truswell (Ed.), Oxford handbook of event structure (pp. 395–425). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Lewandowski, W. (2014). The locative alternation in verb-framed vs. satellite-framed languages: A corpus study of Spanish and Polish. Studies in Language, 38, 864–895.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Mahowald, K., James, A., Futrell, R., & Gibson, E. (2016). A meta-analysis of syntactic priming in language production. Journal of Memory and Language, 91, 5–27.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jml.2016.03.009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Mateu, J. (2012). Conflation and incorporation processes in resultative constructions. In V. Demonte & L. E. McNally (Eds.), Telicity, change, and state: A cross-categorial view of event structure (pp. 252–278). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Mateu, J. (2017). Two types of locative alternation. In D. A. Álvarez & Í. Navarro (Eds.), Verb valency changes: Theoretical and typological perspectives (pp. 51–79). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  51. Mateu, J., & Rigau, G. (2010). Verb-particle constructions in Romance: A lexical-syntactic account. Probus, 22, 241–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Messenger, K., Branigan, H. P., McLean, J. F., & Sorace, A. (2012). Is young children’s passive syntax semantically constrained? Evidence from structural priming. Journal of Memory and Language, 66, 568–587.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Negrão, E. V., & Viotti, E. (2006). Diathesis alternation in Brazilian Portuguese. In D. Lebaud, C. Paulin, & K. Ploog (Eds.), Constructions Verbales et Production de Sens (pp. 141–153). Besançon, France: Presses Universitaires de Franche-Comté.Google Scholar
  54. Pappert, S., & Pechmann, T. (2014). Priming word order by thematic roles: No evidence for an additional involvement of phrase structure. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 67(11), 2260–2278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Perlmutter, D. M., & Postal, P. M. (1983). Towards a universal characterization of passivization. In D. M. Perlmutter (Ed.), Studies in relational grammar 1 (pp. 3–29). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  56. Pickering, M. J., & Branigan, H. P. (1998). The representation of verbs: Evidence from syntactic priming in language production. Journal of Memory and Language, 39, 633–651.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Pickering, M. J., & Ferreira, V. S. (2008). Structural priming: A critical review. Psychological Bulletin, 134(3), 427–459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Pinker, S. (1989). Learnability and cognition: The acquisition of argument structure. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  59. Potter, M. C., & Lombardi, L. (1998). Syntactic priming in immediate recall of sentences. Journal of Memory and Language, 38, 265–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Rappaport, M., & Levin, B. (1988). What to do with theta-roles? In W. Wilkins (Ed.), Syntax and semantics 21: Thematic relations (pp. 7–36). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  61. Rappaport Hovav, M., & Levin, B. (1998). Building verb meanings. In M. Butt & W. Geuder (Eds.), The projection of arguments: Lexical and compositional factors (pp. 97–134). Stanford: CSLI Publications.Google Scholar
  62. Rappaport Hovav, M., & Levin, B. (2011). Lexical conceptual structure. In K. Von Heusinger, C. Maienborn, & P. Portner (Eds.), Semantics: An international handbook of natural language meaning (Vol. 1, pp. 418–438). Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.Google Scholar
  63. Salamoura, A., & Williams, J. N. (2007). Processing verb argument structure across languages: Evidence for shared representations in the bilingual lexicon. Applied Psycholinguistics, 28, 627–660.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Santos, M. P. (2017). Os efeitos do priming sintático intra e translinguístico no processamento de francês como L2 (The effects of intra- and cross-linguistic syntactic priming on the processing of French as L2; Master’s thesis). Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, Brazil.Google Scholar
  65. Snyder, W. (2001). On the nature of syntactic variation: Evidence from complex predicates and complex word-formation. Language, 77, 324–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Snyder, W. (2012). Parameter theory and motion predicates. In V. Demonte & L. E. McNally (Eds.), Telicity, change, and state: A cross-categorial view of event structure (pp. 279–299). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Talmy, L. (1985). Lexicalization patterns: Semantic structure in lexical forms. In T. Shopen (Ed.), Language typology and syntactic description 3: Grammatical categories and the lexicon (pp. 57–149). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  68. Talmy, L. (1991). Path to realization: A typology of event conflation. In L. A. Sutton, C. Johnson, & R. Shields (Eds.), Proceedings of the 17th Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society (pp. 480–519). Berkeley: Berkeley Linguistics Society.Google Scholar
  69. Talmy, L. (2000). Towards a cognitive semantics: Typology and process in concept structuring (Vol. 2). Cambridge: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Teixeira, M. T. (2016). O efeito de priming sintático no processamento de sentenças ativas e passivas do português brasileiro (The effect of syntactic priming on the processing of active and passive sentences of Brazilian Portuguese; Master’s thesis). Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil.Google Scholar
  71. Tooley, K. M., & Traxler, M. J. (2010). Syntactic priming effects in comprehension: A critical review. Language and Linguistics Compass, 4(10), 925–937.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Yi, E., & Koenig, J.-P. (2016). Why verb meaning matters to syntax. In J. Fleischhauer, A. Latrouite, & R. Osswald (Eds.), Explorations of the syntax-semantics interface (pp. 57–76). Düsseldorf: Düsseldorf University Press.Google Scholar
  73. Ziegler, J., & Snedeker, J. (2018). How broad are thematic roles? Evidence from structural priming. Cognition, 179, 221–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Ziegler, J., Goldberg, A., & Snedeker, J. (2018a). Passive priming requires function word overlap. Poster presented at the 31st Annual Meeting of the CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing, Davis, CA.Google Scholar
  75. Ziegler, J., Snedeker, J., & Wittenberg, E. (2018b). Event structures drive semantic structural priming, not thematic roles: Evidence from idioms and light verbs. Cognitive Science, 42(8), 2918–2949.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Postgraduate Program in LettersPontifical Catholic University of Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil

Personalised recommendations