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Poster B25, Thursday, August 16, 3:05 – 4:50 pm, Room 2000AB

Korean Negative Polarity Items: Evidence from ERP responses

Sanghoun Song1, Wonil Chung2, Eunjeong Oh3, Myung-Kwan Park2, Euhee Kim4;1Incheon National University, 2Dongguk University, 3Sangmyung University, 4Shinhan University

Previous neuro-imaging studies have examined the neural processes of licensing negative polarity items (NPIs) in English such as ‘any’ and ‘ever’ in the anomalous sentences without NPI-licensing elements like negation, which elicited an N400 followed by a P600 compared to their grammatical counterparts (cf. Drenhaus et al., 2004, 2005, 2006). They suggested that the failure in licensing of NPIs engenders semantic integration costs (N400), but the additional P600 component from unlicensed NPIs reflects different aspects of processing them. Xiang, Grove and Giannakidou (2016) also noted that explicit and implicit negative meanings were integrated into the grammatical representation in distinct ways, leading to a difference in the P600, and calling for a separation of semantic and pragmatic integration during NPI licensing. Turning to Korean, it is controversial whether the two NPIs in Korean such as the nominal ‘amwu N-to’ (any N) and the adverbial ‘te isang’ (any more) are licensed by nonveridical contexts like interrogatives and ‘-ki cen-ey’ (before)-clause in Korean, although it is well established that they are licensed by an overtly negated predicate (Lee, 1999; Hwang, 2013). Thus, in order to examine how Korean NPIs enter into licensing relation during online processing, this study conducted two ERP experiments in addition to offline and online acceptability tasks with ‘amwu-N-to’ (Experiment 1) and with ‘te isang’ (Experiment 2) within four different contexts: (a) negative; (b) positive; (c) interrogative; (d) Korean ‘before’-clauses. Twenty-one right-handed normal functioning Korean native speakers (14 males, mean age 23), participated in the two experiments. In offline acceptability, there was a significant effect of type factor, F(3,60)=142.75, p<0.001, in EXP 1, and a significant effect of type factor, F(3,60)=79.36, p<0.001, in EXP 2. In Experiment 1 with the nominal ‘amwu N-to’, the ERP component N400 was elicited in the anomalous conditions such as (b) (F(1,20)=18.7, p<0.001), (c) (F(1,20)=9.3, p<0.01), and (d) (F(1,20)=13.9, p<0.001), compared to their grammatical counterpart (a), but no P600 component was elicited. Furthermore, there was an N600 in condition (b) and (c). However, in Experiment 2 with the adverbial ‘te isang’, N400 followed by marginal ‘anterior’ P600 was elicited in the anomalous condition (b), compared to its grammatical counterpart (a). However, (c) relative to (a) evoked an marginal anterior P600, and (d) relative to (a) elicited a significant anterior P200 and ‘anterior’ P600. The results indicate that, first, N400 was evoked by both NPIs at issue in illegal environments like a positive clause. Since N400 is regarded as a neural index of incomplete semantic integration, it follows that the Korean NPIs’ licensee-licensor relation is resolved via semantic processes. Second, ‘amwu+N+to’–containing non-negative conditions elicited N400, whereas ‘te isang’–containing question and ‘-ki cen-ey’ clauses elicited anterior P600. We take the latter anterior P600 component to reflect not a violation of NPI licensing but a cognitive load of discourse/pragmatic processing due to the lexical meaning of ‘te isang’. Third, directly comparing the two NPIs in terms of neural profiles, we find that during processing ‘amwu+N+to’ is cognitively more demanding than ‘te isang’.

Topic Area: Grammar: Syntax