GRK 2340

Graduiertenkolleg "Computational Cognition"

Navigation und Suche der Universität Osnabrück



Juliane Schwab


Tel. +49 (0)541 969-2247
Room 50/104

Institute of Cognitive Science,
Wachsbleiche 27,
49090 Osnabrück, Germany


Mingya Liu
Jutta L. Mueller

The Semantics, Pragmatics, and Acquisition of Polarity Items

Language understanding requires the rapid processing of both narrow linguistic con-text and broad pragmatic context. While processing a sentence, the presence of syntactic,semantic, or pragmatic cues can generate expectations that facilitate the integration of upcoming material. On the other hand, missing or incomplete information can make a sentence unacceptable or costly to process.

This project will investigate the cognitive processes underlying linguistic expectations,contextual violations, and contextual updating in sentence comprehension. It will focus on the phenomenon of polarity sensitivity, as it mirrors the interaction of different aspects of grammar and pragmatics.

The aims of the project are three-fold: (1) we will investigate how adult speakers integrate polarity items during sentence comprehension; (2) we will compare this data to child data to shed light on the learning processes at the interface of syntax, semantics, and pragmatics; and (3) we will investigate the dependency relation between polarity items and their licensing contexts under the lens of current sentence processing models.
For (1) and (2), we will apply electroencephalography (EEG) to reveal the neurophysiological response while processing polarity items in adults and children. For (3), we will apply eye-tracking and behavioral methods, such as sentence rating tasks and self-paced reading, to investigate the interaction of on-line predictions and memory effects that occurs when a sentence processor has to integrate a polarity item with its licensing context.


Is 'sonderlich' losing its NPI-status?


Juliane Schwab, Ming Xiang, and Mingya Liu (accepted). Anti-locality effect without head-final dependencies. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition.

Carolin Dudschig, Barbara Kaup, Mingya Liu, and Juliane Schwab (2021). The processing of negation and polarity: An overview. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research. 50, 1199–1213

Juliane Schwab, Mingya Liu, and Jutta L. Mueller (2021). On the acquisition of polarity items: 11- to 12-year-olds' comprehension of German NPIs and PPIs. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research 50, 1487–1509

Juliane Schwab and Mingya Liu (2020). Lexical and contextual cue effects in discourse expectations: Experimenting with German 'zwar...aber' and English 'true/sure...but'. Dialogue & Discourse 11(2). 74-109.
Paper    Data & code


Edited volumes

Carolin Dudschig, Barbara Kaup, Mingya Liu, and Juliane Schwab (eds.) (2021). The Processing of Negation and Polarity. Special Issue of the Journal of Psycholinguistic Research.

Michael Franke, Nikola Kompa, Mingya Liu, Jutta Mueller and Juliane Schwab (eds.) (2020).
    Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 24 (SuB24).