You are here: Home Publications Shared abstract representation of linguistic structure in bilingual sentence comprehension

Shared abstract representation of linguistic structure in bilingual sentence comprehension

Kidd, E., Tennant, E., & Nitschke, S. (2015). Shared abstract representation of linguistic structure in bilingual sentence comprehension. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 22(4), 1062-1067. doi:10.3758/s13423-014-0775-2.
Although there is strong evidence for shared abstract grammatical structure in bilingual speakers from studies of sentence production, comparable evidence from studies of comprehension is lacking. Twenty-seven (N = 27) English-German bilingual adults participated in a structural priming study where unambiguous English subject and object relative clause (RC) structures were used to prime corresponding subject and object RC interpretations of structurally ambiguous German RCs. The results showed that English object RCs primed significantly greater object RC interpretations in German in comparison to baseline and subject RC prime conditions, but that English subject RC primes did not change the participants’ baseline preferences. This is the first study to report abstract crosslinguistic priming in comprehension. The results specifically suggest that word order overlap supports the integration of syntactic structures from different languages in bilingual speakers, and that these shared representations are used in comprehension as well as production
About MPI

This is the MPI

The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

The institute is situated on the campus of the Radboud University. We participate in the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, and have particularly close ties to that institute's Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging. We also participate in the Centre for Language Studies. A joint graduate school, the IMPRS in Language Sciences, links the Donders Institute, the CLS and the MPI.


Street address
Wundtlaan 1
6525 XD Nijmegen
The Netherlands

Mailing address
P.O. Box 310
6500 AH Nijmegen
The Netherlands

Phone:   +31-24-3521911
Fax:        +31-24-3521213

Public Outreach Officer
Charlotte Horn