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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00059

Assessing the role of experimental evidence for interface judgment: Licensing of negative polarity items, scalar readings, and focus

  • 1CNRS-IKER, France
  • 2Department of Linguistics, University of Chicago, United States

This paper reviews a series of experimental studies that address what we call ‘interface judgement’, which is the complex judgment involving integration from multiple levels of grammatical representation such as the syntax-semantics and prosody-semantics interface. We first discuss the results from the ERP literature connected to NPI licensing in different languages, paying particular attention to the N400 and the P600 as neural correlates of this specific phenomenon and focusing on the study by Xiang et al. (2016). The results of this study show evidence that there are two distinct NPI licensing mechanisms, i.e., licensing and rescuing, in line with Giannakidou (1998, 2006). Then we discuss an acceptability judgement task on Greek NPIs which supports the negativity as a scale hypothesis (Zwarts 1995, 1996, Giannakidou 1998). For the semantics-prosody interface judgment, we discuss two types of findings on two different phenomena and languages: (i) the study by Giannakidou & Yoon (2016) on scalar and non-scalar NPIs in Greek and Korean, which serves as the foundation for Chatzikontantinou (2016)’s study of production data showing distinct prosodic properties in emphatic (scalar) and non-emphatic (non-scalar) Greek NPIs; (ii) a (production and perception) study by Etxeberria & Irurtzun (2015) on the prosodic disambiguation of the scalar/non-scalar readings of sentences containing the focus particle ‘ere’ in Basque. The main conclusion of the paper is that experimental methods of the kind discussed in the paper are useful in establishing physical, quantitative correlates of interface judgement.

Keywords: : interface judgment1, negative polarity items2, scalar items3, FOCUS4, prosody5.

Received: 08 May 2017; Accepted: 15 Jan 2018.

Edited by:

Ángel J. Gallego, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain

Reviewed by:

John E. Drury, Stony Brook University, United States
Leticia Pablos, Leiden University Centre for Linguistics (LUCL), Netherlands  

Copyright: © 2018 Etxeberria and Giannakidou. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Urtzi Etxeberria, CNRS-IKER, Bayonne, France,