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Quantifiers and Discourse Referents in Swedish: An ERP Study
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Languages. (Kvantis)
Lund University. (Kvantis)
2018 (English)In: Eleventh International Conference on the Mental Lexicon 2018: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada September 25-28, 2018 : Abstract Booklet / [ed] Victor Kuperman, 2018, p. 93-93Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In this talk, we present the results from an Event Related Potentials (ERP) study on the processing of anaphoric reference to quantied expressions (QEs) in Swedish. QEs pick out proportions of possible members of some set for which a property holds. In (1a) and (1b), for example, some or few members of the set of students attended the lecture.

(1)  a. Some students attended the lecture.    b. Few students attended the lecture.

(2)  a. They found it very interesting.    b. They stayed at home instead.

Some and few differ in polarity: some is positive (upward entailing) while few is negative (downward entailing) (Peters and Westerstahl, 2006) and this is of importance when referring back to the QE using anaphoric expressions. The sentence in (1a) is naturally followed by (2a), which is about the students attending the lecture (the reference set, refset). The sentence in (1b), in contrast, is naturally followed by (2b), which is about the students not attending the lecture (the complement set, compset) (e.g. Moxey and Sanford, 1987). While (1b) can in fact be followed either by (2a) or (2b), (1a), cannot be followed by (2b).

Filik et al. (2011) is one of few studies of anaphoric reference to QEs in English using online measures (ERP). They report results for positive and negative QEs separately. Each type of QE shows refset and compset eects, as described above, on the disambiguating word. A larger N400 for compset vs. refset continuations for posivive QEs, and the opposite for negative QEs. However, they do not report any results for the contrast between positive and negative QEs in the compset condition. Since this is a very important condition and since it is known that QEs dier across languages (Nouwen, 2010; Tsai et al., 2014), we investigated this issue for Swedish.

160 experimental items of four sentences each were manipulated along two dimensions: polarity (positive vs negative quantifier, några vs få in (3)), and set (refset vs compset targeting disambiguating adjective, duktiga vs dåliga in (3)). The quantiers included were: några (`some’), få (`few’), många (`many’), inte många (`not many’), alla (`all’), inga (`no’), nästan alla (`almost all’), inte alla’ (`not all’).

(3) Några/Få studenter skrev bra på tentan    some/few students wrote well on the-exam

igår och att deCW var såyesterday and that they were so

duktiga/dåligaCW förbryllade professorn.good/bad confused the-professor

Unlike Filik et al. (2011) we found that positive QEs showed a pronounced positivity over the central region (FCZ, CZ, CPZ, PZ) in the compset condition relative to negative QEs, in the P600 time span (500{800 ms) after the onset of the critical word (the disambiguating adjective,`bad’). A linear mixed eects model analysis (LmerTest) showed a highly signicant main eect of polarity in the central region and the P600 time span above. We interpret this to mean that for positive QEs, a new discourse referent needs to be introduced following compset reference, while for negative QEs this discourse referentis already available (Burkhardt, 2007).

References

Burkhardt, Petra. 2007. The p600 reflects cost of new information in discourse memory. Neuroreport 18:1851 - 1854.Filik, Ruth, Hartmut Leuthold, Linda M. Moxey, and Anthony J. Sanford. 2011. Anaphoric reference to quantied antecedents: An event-related brain potential study. Neuropsychologia 49:3786 - 3794.

Moxey, Linda M., and Anthony J. Sanford. 1987. Quantiers and focus. Journal of semantics 5:189 - 206.Nouwen, Rick. 2010. What’s in a quantier? In The linguistics enterprise: from knowledge of language to knowledge in linguistics, ed. Martin Everaert, Tom Lentz, Hannah de Mulder, Øystein Nilsen, and Arjen Zondervan, 235 - 256. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Peters, Stanley, and Dag Westerståhl. 2006. Quantiers in language and logic. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Tsai, C.-Y. Edwin, Gregory Scontras, Kenneth Mai, and Maria Polinsky. 2014. Prohibiting inverse scope: An experimental study of Chinese vs. English. In Empirical Issues in Syntax and Semantics 10 , ed. Christopher Pi~non, 305 - 322. Paris: CSSP.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. p. 93-93
Keywords [en]
set focus, polarity, psycholinguistics
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Research subject
Humanities, Linguistics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-78401OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-78401DiVA, id: diva2:1257617
Conference
11th International Conference on the Mental Lexicon 2018
Projects
Quantifiers and anaphoric set interpretationAvailable from: 2018-10-22 Created: 2018-10-22 Last updated: 2019-01-21Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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More styles
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