This dissertation addresses the issue of the relation between deviant
behavior in agrammatic Broca's aphasia and the theory of grammar.
Agrammatic Broca's aphasics have particular difficulties comprehending
semantically reversible sentences in which the canonical order of arguments
have been inverted.
The working hypothesis is that agrammatic comprehension deficits with
movement derived sentences are reducible to special cases of syntactic
islands and ultimately can be explained as a minimality (in the sense of
Rizzi 1990, 2004b) effect generated by an underspecification of the
morphosyntactic featural make-up normally associated with syntactic
categories. This impoverishment is attributed to a syntactic specific
processing deficit which allows for a partial recovery of the full feature
array needed to distinguish between a moved element and any potential
intervener. The underspecification hypothesis is extended to comprehension
and production deficits and, on this basis, parallels between deficits with
movement and binding are drawn. Particular emphasis is given to the
analysis of passives. Following Gehrke and Grillo's (2007, 2008) analysis
of passivization as an operation on the event structure of the predicate, a
novel approach to comprehension difficulties with passives in language
acquisition and breakdown is discussed. Experimental data on production
(originally discussed in Garraffa and Grillo 2008) of wh-questions in
Italian is also discussed.
This work is of interest to scholars working in the field of language
breakdown, language acquisition as well as to linguists interested in the
syntax of movement, locality and passivization.