Separable affix verbs consist of a stem and a derivational affix, which, in some languages can appear together or in discontinuous, distributed form, e.g., German “aufgreifen” and “greifen … auf” [“up-pick(ing)” and “pick … up”]. Certain stems can combine with only certain affixes. However, many such combinations are evaluated not as clearly correct or incorrect, but frequently take an intermediate status with participants rating them ambiguously. Here, we mapped brain responses to combinations of verb stems and affixes realized in short sentences, including more and less common particle verbs, borderline acceptable combinations and clear violations. Event-related potential responses to discontinuous particle verbs were obtained for five affixes re-combined with 10 verb stems, situated within short, German sentences, i.e., “sie <stem>en es <affix>,” English: “they <stem> it <affix>.” The congruity of combinations was assessed both with behavioral ratings of the stimuli and corpus-derived probability measures. The size of a frontal N400 correlated with the degree of incongruency between stem and affix, as assessed by both measures. Behavioral ratings performed better than corpus-derived measures in predicting N400 magnitudes, and a combined model performed best of all. No evidence for a discrete, right/wrong effect was found. We discuss methodological implications and integrate the results into past research on the N400 and neurophysiological studies on separable-affix verbs, generally.
linear mixed models
400 Sprache::410 Linguistik::415 Grammatik
Congruency of Separable Affix Verb Combinations Is Linearly Indexed by the N400
Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
Philosophie und Geisteswissenschaften
Institut für Deutsche und Niederländische Philologie