Studies in Second Language Acquisition

INTERACTION AND SYNTACTIC PRIMING: English L2 Speakers' Production of Dative Constructions

Kim  McDonough  a1 c1
a1 Northern Arizona University

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mcdonough k   [Google Scholar] 


Interaction research about the role of language production in second language (L2) development has focused largely on modified output, specifically learners' responses to negative feedback (Iwashita, 2001; Loewen & Philp, in press; Mackey & Philp, 1998; McDonough, 2005; McDonough & Mackey, in press; Nobuyoshi & Ellis, 1993; Pica, 1988; Shehadeh, 2001). However, other processes involved in language production might help account for the beneficial relationship between interaction and L2 development. This paper reports the findings of two experiments that examined the occurrence of syntactic priming—a speaker's tendency to produce a previously spoken or heard structure—during interaction between L2 English speakers. Both studies used confederate scripting to elicit dative constructions from advanced English L2 speakers. In experiment 1, the participants (n = 50) were exposed to both prepositional and double-object dative primes. The linear mixed-model analysis indicated that syntactic priming occurred with prepositional datives only. In experiment 2, the English L2 participants (n = 54) received double-object dative primes only; results showed no evidence of syntactic priming. The implications are discussed in terms of the potential role of syntactic priming in driving L2 development in interactive contexts. a

c1 Kim McDonough, Northern Arizona University Department of English, P.O. Box 6032, Flagstaff, AZ 86011; e-mail:


a This research was supported by grants (03135 and 04184) from the campus research board at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I am grateful to Nick Ellis, Susan Gass, Alison Mackey, and Pavel Trofimovich for their insightful comments on this paper and to Ron Crawford for his assistance with the coding. Any errors, of course, are my own.