Investigating effects of prosody and frequency on the on-line processing of quantified sentences – evidence from ERP studies on revision-sensitivity in German
Recent studies have shown that compositional-semantic processing may sometimes proceed in a non-incremental manner. For instance, quantified sentences can exhibit considerable processing delays during on-line sentence comprehension. In my talk, I will introduce a series of ERP studies using picture-sentence verification that investigate such processing delays in sentences involving quantifier restriction in German.
Overall, I will argue that the parser’s predictive capacity may sometimes lead to parsing delays associated with the on-line truth value assignment in a sentence. In the second part of the presentation, I will discuss two studies on contextual cues that might be used by the parser for overriding processing delays. While the first of these cues, prosodic information, has a surprisingly little effect, the second one, experiment-inherent frequency, may lead to immediate parsing decisions for otherwise delayed semantic commitments. The results of these studies also constitute a background for future studies on the on-line processing of plural definites.