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Adventures in English Syntax

By Robert Freidin

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Modality Across Syntactic Categories

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Dissertation Information


Title: Turkish Agrammatic Aphasia: Word order, time reference and case Add Dissertation
Author: Tuba Yarbay Duman Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Center for Language and Cognition
Completed in: 2009
Linguistic Subfield(s): Neurolinguistics;
Subject Language(s): Turkish
Director(s): Gülşat Aygen
Roelien Bastiaanse

Abstract: Agrammatic Broca's aphasia is usually caused by a brain lesion in Broca's
area and its vicinity (Brodmann's area 44 and 45) in the left hemisphere.
This results in difficulties with production and comprehension of complex
linguistic structures. This is the first dissertation that focuses on
agrammatism in Turkish. Several experiments have been conducted to find out
the nature of the underlying deficit in Turkish agrammatic aphasia.

In Turkish, word order is free and case is decisive in determining who does
what to whom. Furthermore, verb inflection can be used to refer to the past
(ben etek ütüledim, 'I have ironed the skirt') and future (ben etek
ütüleyeceğim, 'I will iron the skirt'). The findings show that although
word order is relatively free, agrammatic speakers prefer producing
sentences with subject–object–verb order. Sentences with this order are
also easiest to understand, but only when simple case marking is used.
Finally, reference to the past with verbs is selectively impaired for
Turkish agrammatic speakers. Although Turkish is a structurally different
language than German and Dutch, similar problems arise in agrammatism
(e.g., derived word orders are difficult for Turkish, German and Dutch
patients).

A new hypothesis termed 'Integration Problem Hypothesis (IPH)' has been
formulated to account for the underlying deficit in agrammatic aphasia. The
IPH proposes that a sentence composed of (base order + base case +
non-remote verb form) constitutes the simplest form of a sentence for
agrammatic speakers. That is, in easy sentences, not only are the
constituents in base order, but also case is used in its most basic way
(subject/agent=nominative; object/theme=accusative) and the verb is
non-remote (present and future form). They can comprehend and produce a
sentence using this frame better than any other.

Furthermore, the patients are not able to express more information through
morphosyntax than as reflected in this frame: if they are required to use
derived order, case that is not 'base' or remote (past) verb forms, their
performance drops significantly. In addition, if they have to integrate
information from two morphosyntactic levels at the same time (derived order
and non-base case), more problems arise. This is an integration problem:
sentences with derived order and 'non-base' case are more difficult than
sentences with only derived order, which are in turn more difficult than
sentences with base order.