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Structural Priming as a Mechanism of Language Learning and Use

Dr. Kathryn Bock

Tuesday, February 15, 2005, 01:00pm - 02:00pm

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Psychology

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Structural priming creates a tendency to re-use recently encountered syntactic structures. The resulting repetition of structure has been tracked over changes in words and meanings, in both spontaneous speech and controlled laboratory settings. It occurs in toddlers, preschoolers, normal adults, aphasics, and amnesics. The effects persist across interfering events.  A proposed source of the phenomenon is a change in the cognitive procedures for creating sentences, as a form of implicit learning. As a learning mechanism, structural priming has implications for language acquisition, language use, and language change in individual speakers and, more broadly, for changes in language over time.

Dr. Kathryn Bock