S-Space Language Education Institute (언어교육원) Language Research (어학연구) Language Research (어학연구) Volume 51 Number 1/3 (2015)
Backward Antecedent Search of the Null Subject Pronominal (pro) in Korean: An ERP Study
- Park, Myung-Kwan; Cho, Euiyon; Chung, Wonil
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 언어교육원
- 어학연구, Vol.51 No.3, pp. 537-568
- zero/null subject pronominal (pro) in Korean; honorific marker -si-; respectful vs. non-respectful subject; Event-related potentials (ERPs). left anterior negativity (LAN); N400; anterior P600
- Departing from Mazuka (1991) and Kwon and Sturt (2013), we examine how Korean native speakers comprehend the zero/null subject pronominal (pro) in Korean in the course of sentence processing. Instead of the forward antecedent search design that the two previous studies adopted, we used the backward one to construct sentences where pro finds its antecedent in a preceding discourse. The results of the Event-related Potentials (ERPs)-based two experiments with the two sets of materials are three-folded. First, Korean native speakers process pro in a parallel fashion to overt subjects, which is evidenced by the fact that the pro subject and the overt subject conditions are ERPs-wise indistinguishable. Second, the use of the honorific marker –si- on a verb/adjective with a respectful and a non-respectful subject elicits different ERP components; with the former, N400 that reflects a repair of contextual meaning, but with the latter, LAN followed by anterior P600 that reflects a grammatical abnormalcy. Third, we also examine the exact (ERP-wise, temporal & spatial) locus of the difference between a respectful and a non-respectful subject, finding that the misuse of the honorific marker with a respectful pro subject relative to its overt counterpart registers a negativity at the anterior region at the 320-420ms interval.