This study builds on insights from syntactic priming to investigate the mechanism underlying syntactic satiation, the phenomenon where "sentences that were initially judged ungrammatical begin to sound increasingly acceptable" (Snyder 2000). Factors known to affect priming—namely (i) proximity of prime and target sentences to each other and (ii) lexical overlap between a prime and target sentence—were manipulated in order to tap into satiation effects in Complex NP Constraint (CNPC) islands and Subject islands. Results from this study showed firstly that CNPC islands were improved by a proximate CNPC island, but Subject islands showed no such effects, indicating that these two sentence types were treated differently in the minds of comprehenders. Moreover, clearer effects when CNPC prime-target pairs were separated only by one sentence but less clear effects when they were separated by five points towards a short-lived time course for satiation. Finally, neither CNPC nor Subject islands were affected by the type of lexical repetition between prime-target pairs. Taken together, results from this study provide initial evidence that satiation may involve lingering activation of structural representations that decays over time, akin to what some have proposed for syntactic priming.
Proceedings of the 34th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Aaron Kaplan, Abby Kaplan, Miranda K. McCarvel, and Edward J. Rubin
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