The Nature of Syntactic Gender Processing in Spanish: An ERP Study

Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/194244
Title:
The Nature of Syntactic Gender Processing in Spanish: An ERP Study
Author:
O'Rourke, Polly Lee
Issue Date:
2008
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
The Nature of Syntactic Gender Processing in Spanish: An ERP StudySyntactic gender as a lexical feature has been studied via picture-word interference paradigms in many languages. While effects have been found for noun phrase production in many languages, no effects have been found in Spanish, despite the fact that articles, nouns, and adjectives have a syntactic gender. Cubelli et al. (2005) found inhibitory effects in bare noun production in Italian which led to the hypothesis that such effects could be found for Spanish. Experiments 1 and 2 represented attempts replicate Cubelli et al.'s findings (Experiment 1 used an auditory distractor word and Experiment 2 a visual distractor), however no gender congruency effects were found. Experiment 3 attempted to generate congruency effects by requiring subjects to utilize gender-marked demonstratives and adjectives but still no effects were found. The lack of effects gave rise to the proposal that gender is not accessed during noun phrase production in Spanish and that the extreme regularity of the gender-marking system makes an article-plus-noun phrase more akin to a single lexical unit that can be accessed without an explicit synthetic process. Experiment 4 contrasted simple noun phrases that might be directly retrieved to constructions with long-distance dependencies, for which access to abstract gender features is relevant to parsing hierarchical sentence structure and aimed to distinguish these distinct cognitive processes via event-related potentials. The hypothesis was that a local gender violation in a sentence like "la piano" (the-fem piano-masc) would elicit a LAN as compared to the correct alternative, while a long-distance violation like "el piano que compré ayer es antigua" (the-masc piano-masc that I bought yesterday is antique-fem) would elicit a P600. All violations elicited a LAN and all violations involving adjacent segments elicited a P600; critically, the long-distance violation did not elicit a P600. It was concluded that the P600 reflects a repair process which occurs when such repair is not costly to the parser. Experiment 5 was a behavioral study using the stimuli from Experiment 4 with an error detection task which confirmed that subjects were sensitive to all error types.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
ERP; Gender; Sentence Processing; Spanish
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Linguistics; Graduate College
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Committee Chair:
Nicol, Janet

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoENen_US
dc.titleThe Nature of Syntactic Gender Processing in Spanish: An ERP Studyen_US
dc.creatorO'Rourke, Polly Leeen_US
dc.contributor.authorO'Rourke, Polly Leeen_US
dc.date.issued2008en_US
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractThe Nature of Syntactic Gender Processing in Spanish: An ERP StudySyntactic gender as a lexical feature has been studied via picture-word interference paradigms in many languages. While effects have been found for noun phrase production in many languages, no effects have been found in Spanish, despite the fact that articles, nouns, and adjectives have a syntactic gender. Cubelli et al. (2005) found inhibitory effects in bare noun production in Italian which led to the hypothesis that such effects could be found for Spanish. Experiments 1 and 2 represented attempts replicate Cubelli et al.'s findings (Experiment 1 used an auditory distractor word and Experiment 2 a visual distractor), however no gender congruency effects were found. Experiment 3 attempted to generate congruency effects by requiring subjects to utilize gender-marked demonstratives and adjectives but still no effects were found. The lack of effects gave rise to the proposal that gender is not accessed during noun phrase production in Spanish and that the extreme regularity of the gender-marking system makes an article-plus-noun phrase more akin to a single lexical unit that can be accessed without an explicit synthetic process. Experiment 4 contrasted simple noun phrases that might be directly retrieved to constructions with long-distance dependencies, for which access to abstract gender features is relevant to parsing hierarchical sentence structure and aimed to distinguish these distinct cognitive processes via event-related potentials. The hypothesis was that a local gender violation in a sentence like "la piano" (the-fem piano-masc) would elicit a LAN as compared to the correct alternative, while a long-distance violation like "el piano que compré ayer es antigua" (the-masc piano-masc that I bought yesterday is antique-fem) would elicit a P600. All violations elicited a LAN and all violations involving adjacent segments elicited a P600; critically, the long-distance violation did not elicit a P600. It was concluded that the P600 reflects a repair process which occurs when such repair is not costly to the parser. Experiment 5 was a behavioral study using the stimuli from Experiment 4 with an error detection task which confirmed that subjects were sensitive to all error types.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen_US
dc.subjectERPen_US
dc.subjectGenderen_US
dc.subjectSentence Processingen_US
dc.subjectSpanishen_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineLinguisticsen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.chairNicol, Janeten_US
dc.contributor.committeememberNicol, Janeten_US
dc.contributor.committeememberVan Petten, Cymaen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberGerken, LouAnnen_US
dc.identifier.proquest10069en_US
dc.identifier.oclc752259913en_US
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