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ERIC Number: EJ796508
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jul
Pages: 43
Abstractor: Author
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0749-596X
The Status of Subject-Object Reanalyses in the Language Comprehension Architecture
Haupt, Friederike S.; Schlesewsky, Matthias; Roehm, Dietmar; Friederici, Angela D.; Bornkessel-Schlesewsky, Ina
Journal of Memory and Language, v59 n1 p54-96 Jul 2008
This paper examines the hypothesis that grammatical function reanalyses in simple sentences should not be treated as phrase structure revisions, but rather as increased costs in "linking" an argument from a syntactic to a semantic representation. To this end, we investigated whether subject-object reanalyses in German verb-final sentences can be associated with an electrophysiological processing signature that is distinct from the response typically engendered by structure-affecting reanalyses (the P600). We hypothesized that the previously observed heterogeneous ERP component pattern for subject-object reanalyses in German might be due to task- or strategy-related interactions between the critical processing mechanisms and the experimental environment. In order to minimize specific task influences, Experiment 1 therefore embedded subject-object ambiguities into short stories (presented auditorily). Constructions with dative and accusative objects both showed a biphasic N400-late positivity pattern for disambiguation towards an object-initial structure. These results thus contrast with previous findings, in showing that there is no principled difference in the component pattern for the two types of structures. This conclusion was confirmed by the results of Experiment 2, which presented the identical accusative sentences from Experiment 1 in isolation using two different tasks (comprehension vs. acceptability) and again revealed N400-late positivity responses. From the overall data pattern, we conclude that the N400 is a robust correlate of grammatical function reanalysis that occurs independently of any lexical factors and, consequently, that grammatical function reanalysis is functionally distinct from phrase structure reanalysis. (Contains 7 figures and 13 tables.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A