When bilingual speakers plan to speak in one of their languages, the other language remains active and exerts an influence on the chosen language. However, the factors that modulate this influence, and particularly the extent to which syntactic structures and word order need to be the same in both languages for this influence to occur, are not yet fully understood. In this study, we explore the role of free word order in bilinguals’ representation of their two languages by analyzing the connections of linguistic representations in Spanish–Kaqchikel early bilinguals, two languages that allow word order variation in transitive sentences. In Experiment 1, a structural priming experiment within Kaqchikel was conducted with voice and word order of prime as independent variables. Results showed priming of both structure and word order, independently from each other. In Experiment 2, cross-linguistic structural priming was used from Spanish to Kaqchikel. Results showed priming of voice, regardless of word order, but not priming of word order. Taken together, these results suggest that, in languages with greater flexibility in their basic word orders, structural selection and word order choice seem to be independent processes.
- Bilingual sentence production
- Cross-linguistic priming
- Word order
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Linguistics and Language