Title

Judgement of functional morphology in agrammaticaphasia

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Journal of Neurolinguistics

Volume

1

Issue

21

Publication Date

1-1-2008

First Page

35

Last Page

65

Abstract

Individuals with agrammatic Broca’s aphasia show deficits in production of functional morphemes like complementizers (e.g., that and if) and tense and agreement markers (e.g., –ed and –s), with complementizers often being more impaired than verbal morphology. However, there has been comparatively little work examining patients’ ability to comprehend or judge the grammaticality of these morphemes. This paper investigates comprehension of complementizers and verb inflections in two timed grammaticality-judgment experiments. In Experiment 1, participants with agrammatic Broca’s aphasia and grammatical-morphology production deficits (n=10) and unimpaired controls (n=10) heard complement clause sentences, subject relative clause sentences, and conjoined sentences. In Experiment 2, the same participants heard sentences with finite auxiliaries, sentences with finite main verbs, and sentences with uninflected verbs. Results showed above-chance accuracy in aphasic participants’ judgments for complementizer sentences in Experiment 1, but chance performance for verb inflections in Experiment 2. This pattern held regardless of whether the verb inflections were affixes or free-standing auxiliaries. Implications of these results for theories of agrammatic morphological impairments, including feature underspecification accounts (Wenzlaff & Clahsen, 2004; Burchert, Swoboda-Moll & DeBleser, 2005a) and hierarchical structure-based accounts (Friedmann & Grodzinsky, 1997; Izvorski & Ullman, 1999), are discussed.

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