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Processing Differences Between Person and Number: A Theoretical Interpretation

Ackema, P; Neeleman, A; (2019) Processing Differences Between Person and Number: A Theoretical Interpretation. Frontiers in Psychology , 10 , Article 211. 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00211. Green open access

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Abstract

The literature on processing of person and number agreement contains some apparently contradictory results. On the one hand, some ERP studies do not find a qualitative difference between person and number when an agreeing verb does not match the features of its subject, the controller of the agreement relation (Silva-Pereyra and Carreiras, 2007; Zawiszewski et al., 2016). On the other hand, an ERP study reported in Mancini et al. (2011b) did find a qualitative difference between agreement violations in person and agreement violations in number, a result further corroborated by an fMRI study reported in Mancini et al. (2017). At the same time, there is also a trend on which the literature appears to agree: on the whole the response to agreement violations in person is stronger than the response to number agreement violations. In this paper we argue that the constellation of reported results can be accounted for by adopting a theory of person and number features that has the following two core properties: (i) pronouns are specified for both person and number, but regular NPs are specified for number only and do not carry any person specification; (ii) all of first, second and third person are characterized by one or more person features, whereas, in contrast, one of the numbers (singular) corresponds to the absence of number features.

Type: Article
Title: Processing Differences Between Person and Number: A Theoretical Interpretation
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00211
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00211
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: person, number, agreement, processing, features
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Linguistics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10076882
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