An ERP study to investigate the constraining effect of Chinese

語 言 學 研 究 所
Institute of Linguistics
An ERP Study to Investigate the Constraining
Effect of Chinese Classifier-Noun Agreement
李佳穎 博士
時 間:Thursday, 14:00-16:00, Nov 19, 2009
地 點:文學院144室
Previous ERP studies examined the joint effects of contextual constraint and word
expectancy (cloze probability) on the sentence comprehension and suggested that there were multiple
effects in different processing stages. However, in general, the cloze probability is hard to be matched
under strongly and weakly constraining context in those studies, which makes the interaction between
context and cloze probability unexplainable. The current study aims to reexamine this issue by
manipulating the typicality of Chinese classifier-noun agreement with event-related potential (ERP)
measurement, which have different components to index the semantic (N400) and grammatical (P600)
processing. In this experiment, each participant will perceive a highly expected (high cloze probability),
an unexpected (low cloze probability), or an anomalous noun followed by either a strongly constrained or
weakly constrained classifiers. The strength of constraint is defined by the subjective rating on the
number of nouns that can be followed by a specific classifier. The data showed an interaction between
contextual constraint and cloze probability in N400. The critical comparison between unexpected nouns
of low cloze probability and anomalous completions showed different patterns in strongly and weakly
constraining context. The result is interpreted as that, the strongly constrained context yields a narrower
scope of activation than weakly constrained context does. The difference in the responses to them might
be a cause of the presence of a preferred competitor in the strong constraint condition. The cognitive
processing underlying the Chinese classifier-noun agreement will be discussed.