Between-language priming and shared syntax in bilingual children: Preprint available

This paper has been in the pipeline for a very long time. It’s been one of those projects that got pushed down the to-do list during the pandemic and it’s taken a while to find the time to get back to it. Anyway, this is the revised version, which is currently under review. You can access it here. Want to know what it’s about? Here’s the abstract:

Studies showing between-language priming in bilingual adults suggest that syntactic representations are shared across languages (e.g., Hartsuiker, Pickering & Veltkamp, 2004). In this paper we investigate whether this also holds for bilingual children. In doing so, we explore the role of shared syntax in cross-linguistic influence, a well-established but as yet poorly understood characteristic of bilingual language development. In Experiment 1, we primed bilingual English-Dutch children between languages using possessive structures (e.g., the astronaut’s dog vs. the dog of the astronaut). In Experiment 2, we compared the same group of children with bilingual Spanish-Dutch and monolingual Dutch children using within-language priming. In both experiments, we examined the relation between priming behaviour and individual differences in language exposure, use and proficiency. Experiment 1 found between-language priming with long-lasting effects modulated by bilingual proficiency. Experiment 2 found evidence of inverse priming effects in within-language priming modulated – to a certain degree – by properties of the bilingual children’s other language. Taken together, these findings suggests that bilingual children develop shared syntactic representations for structures which are similar across their two languages.