The English and Arabic languages each have passive constructions, but their realizations in the two languages are quite different. We carried out a syntactic priming experiment on Arabic-English bilinguals to investigate whether analogous sentence structures might share a consistent underlying representation across languages, regardless of their different surface forms. Participants read a series of sentence stimuli, half of which were in Arabic and half in English. Sentences could be in active or passive voice. The stimuli were presented in a randomized order so that each target could be preceded by a prime matching or mismatching the target in either voice or language. Subjects needed to decide who carried out the action described in the sentence (first half of the experiment) or to whom the action happened (second half). The resulting reaction time data provide strong evidence of syntactic priming within but not across languages. Our findings are discussed in relation to the shared-syntax and separate-syntax accounts of sentence processing in bilinguals.


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pp. 1-28
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