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When Context Begins Affecting “Ziji” Anaphora Processing? Evidence from Semantic Priming

[ Vol. 5 , Issue. 1 ]

Author(s):

Shiqian Zhang and Delu Zhang*   Pages 36 - 43 ( 8 )

Abstract:


Background: Principle A of the Government and Binding Theory (Norm Chomsky, 1981, 1986) prescribes that a reflexive should refer to the local (short-distance) antecedent within the local syntactic domain. However, the Chinese bare reflexive “ziji” (自己) does not accord with Principle A. “Ziji” can refer to a local or long-distance antecedent, directly determined by context (co-text).

Objective: The present study aims to explore when context begins affecting “ziji” anaphora processing.

Methods: Using the semantic priming technique, we examined the nature of the earliest stage of context- manipulated “ziji” anaphora processing.

Results: A priming effect on target words under (semantically) relevant contexts was detected; we also found the priming effect on the L-target under the long-distance contextual condition, but found no priming effect on the relevant target (the S-target) under the local (short-distance) contextual condition.

Conclusion: The present study suggests that contextual information begins affecting “ziji” anaphora at its earliest processing stage; that is, context immediately affects “ziji” anaphora processing once it is available. However, at the earliest processing stage, the activation of contextual information is still asymmetric or inadequate.

Keywords:

Anaphora, antecedent, anaphor, reflexive, “ziji”, context, semantic priming technique.

Affiliation:

School of Foreign Languages, University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, Shanghai 200093, School of Foreign Languages, Tongji University, Shanghai 200092

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