This study focuses on the establishment of pronominal dependencies in
individuals with Broca's aphasia. It offers insight in how the fields of
aphasiology and linguistics can meet and can help broaden one's knowledge
base on this particular linguistic phenomenon and its breakdown in Broca's
aphasia. In addition to data from language breakdown, data from
preschool-children examining the same phenomena are also provided. The two
language systems share the same insufficient ability to implement
grammatical knowledge as a consequence of a lack of processing resources.
As such, children's and Broca's patients' performance patterns can be
compared and more can be learned about the general organisation of
knowledge of reference assignment.
The experimental results provide evidence for a hierarchical organisation
of the healthy, impaired and developing linguistic systems. They point
towards a reduction in the capacity of Broca's patients to process
syntactic information on time. In healthy non-brain-damaged adults
syntactic operations are the most automatic (economical) operations used to
establish pronoun-antecedent dependencies. The syntactic operations block
other possible operations that can potentially be used to establish these
kinds of dependencies. In Broca's patients and pre-school children,
syntactic information is not ready on time. As a consequence, other levels
of information, such as discourse or the non-linguistic level, come into
play and provide information for pronoun resolution sometimes resulting in
erroneous dependencies. The observed error patterns in these populations
thus reveal a competition between narrow syntax and other systems.
This is a multidisciplinary study and is of relevance to any scholar in the
fields of neurolinguistics, first language acquisition, theoretical
linguistics, psycholinguistics and clinical linguistics.