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.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Language and Linguistics
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Linguistics and Language
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Speech and Hearing