Perspective in the Processing of the Chinese Reflexive ziji: ERP Evidence

  • Petra B. Schumacher
  • Walter Bisang
  • Linlin Sun
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 7099)


We investigated the comprehension of the Chinese reflexive ziji, which is typically subject to long-distance binding. However, this preference can be overridden by verb semantics (some verbs require local binding) as well as by subtle feature combinations of intervening noun phrases (NPs) (e.g., 1 st /2 nd person pronouns block dependencies with more distant 3 rd person antecedents). The processing of ziji was examined in sentences containing two verb types (local/self-oriented, distant/other-oriented) and three different intervening NPs (1 st , 2 nd , 3 rd person). The event-related potential data revealed an early interaction of verb and intervener: other-oriented verbs showed more processing effort for 1 st and 2 nd person interveners (blocking), while self-oriented verbs showed a disadvantage for 2 nd person (associated with directive speech acts). We argue that two distinct animacy hierarchies are the source for these early verb-specific patterns. The blocking effect showed an additional later effect independent of verb semantics.


Reflexivity Chinese long-distance binding blocking effect animacy hierarchy perspective language comprehension event-related brain potentials 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Petra B. Schumacher
    • 1
  • Walter Bisang
    • 1
  • Linlin Sun
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of English and LinguisticsJohannes Gutenberg University MainzMainzGermany

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