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Journal Article

Syntactic Priming: A Corpus-based Approach


Gries,  Stefan T.
Department of Linguistics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Gries, S. T. (2005). Syntactic Priming: A Corpus-based Approach. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 34(4), 365-399.

Cite as:
The present study is a corpus-based investigation of syntactic priming, i.e. the tendency to reuse syntactic constructions. On the basis of data from the ICE-GB corpus, I analyze two different pairs of syntactic patterns, the so-called dative alternation and particle placement of transitive phrasal verbs. Although it has sometimes been argued that only experimental data can contribute to studies of priming, the analysis shows that (a) the corpus-based results for datives are very similar to the experimental ones; (b) priming is also obtained for the verb-particle construction, a construction hitherto not explored in the priming literature and (c), most importantly, in line with much previous psycholinguistic and corpus-linguistic work, priming effects turn out to be strongly verb-specific such that some verbs are much more resistant or responsive to priming than others. I conclude with a discussion of how corpus data relate to experimental data and how the corpus-based findings can contribute to psycholinguistic model building.