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ERIC Number: EJ884826
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-May
Pages: 17
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 55
ISSN: ISSN-0278-7393
Semantics Does Not Need a Processing License from Syntax in Reading Chinese
Zhang, Yaxu; Yu, Jing; Boland, Julie E.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v36 n3 p765-781 May 2010
Two event-related brain potential experiments were conducted to investigate whether there is a functional primacy of syntactic structure building over semantic processes during Chinese sentence reading. In both experiments, we found that semantic interpretation proceeded despite the impossibility of a well-formed syntactic analysis. In Experiment 1, we found an N400 difference between combined syntactic category and semantic violations and single syntactic violations. This finding is inconsistent with earlier German and French studies (e.g., Friederici, Gunter, Hahne, & Mauth, 2004; Friederici, Steinhauer, & Frisch, 1999; Hahne & Friederici, 2002) showing that semantic integration does not proceed for words of the wrong syntactic category. In Experiment 2, we used a design that was very similar to that used in earlier German and French studies, but semantic violations still evoked an N400, irrespective of a simultaneous syntactic category violation. We argue against processing models that do not allow for semantic integration of a word unless it can be grammatically attached to the developing phrase structure tree. Rather, language experience may modulate the mode of interplay between syntax and semantics. (Contains 2 figures, 4 footnotes and 5 tables.)
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: China (Beijing)