Left-edge boundary tone and main clause verb effects on syntactic processing in embedded clauses - An ERP study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We examined the effects of main clause verb pragmatics and left-edge boundary tones on syntactic processing in Swedish embedded clauses, using listener judgments and Event-Related Potentials. When the syntactic structure did not match the expectation based on the occurrence of a left-edge boundary tone, the acceptance rate decreased significantly, and a biphasic positive effect with an early peak (P345) and a late peak (P600) showed increased processing load. A larger continuous positive effect (P600) was obtained by changing an assertive main clause verb to a nonassertive verb, thereby modifying the lexical pragmatic context of the embedded clause. Increased positivity was also seen at the left-edge boundary tone when it mismatched a preceding nonassertive verb. We conclude that left-edge boundary tones are used in addition to verb pragmatics to guide the syntactic processing of embedded clauses in Swedish, and that pragmatic and prosodic information is integrated immediately.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics
  • Psychology


  • ERP, Prosody, Syntax, Pragmatics, Boundary tone, Intonation, P600
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-73
JournalJournal of Neurolinguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Linguistics and Phonetics (015010003), Department of Psychology (012010000)

Related projects

View all (2)