Effects of subject-case marking on agreement processing: ERP evidence from Basque
MetadataShow full item record
Wing-Yee Chow, Andrew Nevins, Manuel Carreiras, Effects of subject-case marking on agreement processing: ERP evidence from Basque, Cortex, Volume 99, 2018, Pages 319-329, ISSN 0010-9452, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2017.12.009.
Previous cross-linguistic research has found that comprehenders are immediately sensitive to various kinds of agreement violations across languages. We focused on Basque, a verb-final ergative language with both subjecteverb (SeV) and objecteverb (OeV) agreement. We compared the effects of SeV agreement violations on comprehenders' eventrelated brain potentials (ERPs) in transitive sentences (where OeV agreement is present, and the subject is ergative) and intransitive sentences (where OeV agreement is absent, and the subject is absolutive). We observed a P600 effect in both cases, but only violations with intransitive subjects elicited an early posterior negativity. Such a qualitative difference suggests that distinct neurocognitive mechanisms are involved in processing agreement with transitive subjects (which are marked with ergative case) versus intransitive subjects (which bear absolutive case). Building on theoretical proposals that in languages such as Basque, true agreement occurs with absolutive subjects but not with ergative subjects, we submit that the early posterior negativity may be an electrophysiological signature for true agreement.