Universiteit Leiden

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PhD project

Tapping into semantic recovery: an event-related potential study on the processing of gapping

This project aims to investigate the underlying (neurocognitive) linguistic processes of ellipsis resolution, particularly gapping.

Duration
2012  -   2016
Contact
Bobby Ruijgrok
Funding
NWO Promoties in de Geesteswetenschappen NWO Promoties in de Geesteswetenschappen

This project aims to investigate the underlying (neurocognitive) linguistic processes of ellipsis resolution, particularly gapping. The neuroscientific technique "event-related brain potentials" (ERPs) will be applied to determine the time-course of ellipsis resolution. Ellipsis is an omnipresent phenomenon in the world's languages and an adequate tool to examine processing of meaning at a propositional level. To interpret (1) a process of semantic recovery is required while processing the right conjunct - which links with gapped elements.

(1) John bought a DVD in the supermarket, and Sally in the department store.

In (1) the message of the right conjunct is that Sally bought a DVD; she did not, for example, steal a CD. Somehow missing elements are interpreted. The question is what neural correlates constitute the resolution process. Using syntactic and semantic variables in several ERP-experiments in both the visual and auditory domain we will try to establish this. One of the advantages of recording ERPs is that it may give us insight in characteristics of and interplay between syntactic and semantic processes. Hopefully, this research will contribute to long-standing theoretical debates concerning to what extent recovery of elliptic phrases is steered by syntactic or semantic strategies.

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