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Journal Article

The role of contrast in the local licensing of scrambling in German: Evidence from online comprehension

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Bornkessel,  Ina
Max Planck Research Group Neurotypology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Bornkessel, I., & Schlesewsky, M. (2006). The role of contrast in the local licensing of scrambling in German: Evidence from online comprehension. Journal of Germanic Linguistics, 18(1), 1-43.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0010-E36E-8
Abstract
We examine the role of contrast in the local licensing of scrambling in on-line language comprehension in German using event-related brain potentials (ERP). Although contrastive readings give rise to a higher acceptability of scrambled word orders, they do not lead to an attenuation of the processing difficulties observed at the position of the scrambled object itself. Thus, similar to previous findings on givenness, contrast leads to global but not local licensing of scrambled structures, a finding that speaks against an immediate interaction of all relevant information types. The pattern is reversed when the scrambled object induces a corrective focus reading. Here scrambling does not give rise to increased local processing cost, but global acceptability decreases. These findings suggest that corrective focus can override local syntactic requirements on the basis of its extraordinarily high communicative saliency.