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Brain Lang. 2013 Jul;126(1):8-19. doi: 10.1016/j.bandl.2013.04.001. Epub 2013 May 3.

Syntax does not necessarily precede semantics in sentence processing: ERP evidence from Chinese.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China. yxzhang@pku.edu.cn

Abstract

Two event-related potential experiments were conducted to examine whether the processing of syntactic category or syntactic subcategorization frame always needs to temporally precede semantic processing during the reading of Chinese sentences of object-subject-verb construction. The sentences contained (a) no anomalies, (b) semantic only anomalies, (c) syntactic category plus semantic anomalies, or (d) transitivity plus semantic anomalies. In both experiments, all three types of anomalies elicited a broad negativity between 300 and 500 ms. This negativity included an N400 effect, given its distribution. Moreover, syntactic category plus semantic anomalies elicited a P600 response, whereas the other two types of anomalies did not. The finding of N400 effects suggests that semantic integration can be attempted even when the processing of syntactic category or syntactic subcategorization frame is unsuccessful. Thus, syntactic processing is not a necessary prerequisite for the initiation of semantic integration in Chinese.

PMID:
23648559
DOI:
10.1016/j.bandl.2013.04.001
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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