Electrophysiological evidence for use of the animacy hierarchy, but not thematic role assignment, during verb-argument processing

  title={Electrophysiological evidence for use of the animacy hierarchy, but not thematic role assignment, during verb-argument processing},
  author={Martin Paczynski and Gina R. Kuperberg},
  journal={Language and Cognitive Processes},
  pages={1402 - 1456}
Animacy is known to play an important role in language processing and production, but debate remains as to how it exerts its effects: (1) through links to syntactic ordering, (2) through inherent differences between animate and inanimate entities in their salience/lexico-semantic accessibility, and (3) through links to specific thematic roles. We contrasted these three accounts in two event-related potential (ERP) experiments examining the processing of direct object arguments in simple English… 
Beyond Verb Meaning: Experimental Evidence for Incremental Processing of Semantic Roles and Event Structure
The combined set of findings suggest that clause-initial animacy is not sufficient for agent identification in German, which seems to be completed only at the verbal lexeme in the authors' experiment.
Mapping thematic roles onto grammatical functions in sentence production: evidence from structural priming in Italian
Four experiments in Italian investigated how conceptual entities are mapped onto grammatical functions. By orthogonally manipulating the animacy of the elements partaking to a transitive event, we
How Animacy and Verbal Information Influence V2 Sentence Processing: Evidence from Eye Movements
Abstract There exists a clear association between animacy and the grammatical function of transitive subject. The grammar of some languages require the transitive subject to be high in animacy, or at
Thematic role assignment in non-default verb classes: A cross-linguistic comparison of English and German
The influence of sentential cues (such as animacy and word order) on thematic role interpretation differs as a function of language (MacWhinney et al. 1984). However, existing cross-linguistic
On the interplay of object animacy and verb type during sentence comprehension in German: ERP evidence from the processing of transitive dative and accusative constructions
Abstract Comprehension of transitive sentences relies on different kinds of information, like word order, case marking, and animacy contrasts between arguments. When no formal cues like case marking
The Role of Noun Animacy in Language Processing
Animacy of nouns has been found significantly impacting the organization and processing of language in many ways. In particular, it imposes restrictions on the syntactic morphology and syntactic


Is animacy special? ERP correlates of semantic violations and animacy violations in sentence processing
An electrophysiological analysis of animacy effects in the processing of object relative sentences.
The timing and multitude of electrophysiological effects are interpreted as evidence that both semantic and syntactic information, and perhaps other types of information, are used early during structural analysis and message-level computations as needed for comprehension.
Neural correlates of processing syntactic, semantic, and thematic relationships in sentences
Findings support the theory that the cost of syntactic processing on a verb is influenced by the precise thematic relationships between that verb and its preceding arguments.
Electrophysiological distinctions in processing conceptual relationships within simple sentences.
Semantic Influences On Parsing: Use of Thematic Role Information in Syntactic Ambiguity Resolution
Abstract Ferreira and Clifton (1986, Experiment 1) found that readers experienced equal difficulty with temporarily ambiguous reduced relatives clauses when the first noun was animate (e.g., "The
The N400 reflects problems of thematic hierarchizing
Using event-related potentials (ERPs), we present evidence that the current interpretation of the N400 component must be extended. This component is elicited in incorrect German sentences with two
Verb Argument Structure Processing: The Role of Verb-Specific and Argument-Specific Information☆☆☆
Abstract The processing of semantic and structural information concerning the relation between a verb and its arguments is investigated in German in two experiments: In Experiment 1 the verb precedes
Animacy and Syntactic Structure : Fronted NPs in English
It has long been known that whether the referent of a nominal is animate or not can be important in determining its syntactic or morphological realization. To describe this effect, researchers have
Neural mechanisms of language comprehension: Challenges to syntax