In the present study, we examined the time course of semantic and syntactic processing when Chinese is read. Readers’ eye movements were monitored, and the relation between a single-character critical word and the sentence context was manipulated such that three kinds of sentences were developed: (1) congruent, (2) those with a semantic violation, and (3) those with both a semantic and a syntactic violation. The eye movement data showed that the first-pass reading times were significantly longer for the target region in the two violation conditions than in the congruent condition. Moreover, the semantic + syntactic violation caused more severe disruption than did the pure semantic violation, as reflected by longer first-pass reading times for the target region and by longer go-past times for the target region and posttarget region in the former than in the latter condition. These results suggest that the effects of, at least, a semantic violation can be detected immediately by Chinese readers and that the processing of syntactic and semantic information is distinct in both first-pass and second-pass reading.
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This research was based on the first author’s master’s thesis at the South China Normal University under the guidance of the second author. Preparation of the article was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (30670700), the Guangdong Natural Science Foundation, China (06200524), and the Program for New Century Excellent Talent in Universities in China (NCET-08-0645) to the second author, by Grant CUHK441008 from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China, to the third author, and by Grant HD26765 from the National Institutes of Health to the fourth author.
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Yang, J., Wang, S., Chen, HC. et al. The time course of semantic and syntactic processing in Chinese sentence comprehension: Evidence from eye movements. Memory & Cognition 37, 1164–1176 (2009). https://doi.org/10.3758/MC.37.8.1164