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Sentence production with verbs of alternating transitivity in agrammatic Broca's aphasia

By Y.R.M. Bastiaanse and R.M. van Zonneveld

Abstract

Bastiaanse, Koekkoek And Van Zonneveld (2003) hypothesized that individuals with Broca's aphasia have problems with sentences in which the verb and its arguments are not in their base position. The present study is meant to test this hypothesis with the help of verbs with alternating transitivity: transitive: the boy breaks the glass; intransitive or unaccusative: the glass breaks. Superficially seen, the latter sentence is less complex (subject-verb) than the first (subject-verbobject), but from a theoretical point of view, the unaccusative reading (the glass breaks) is more complex, because the theme is in subject position, which is not the base position. A production test was presented to patients with Broca's aphasia and with anomic/Wernicke's aphasia, in which transitive and unaccusative sentences with the same verbs were elicited. The results show that broca patients are significantly better in producing the transitive sentences than the unaccusative ones, whereas there is no difference for the patients with anomic/wernicke's aphasia. Furthermore, an error analysis reveals that the large majority of the errors made by the patients with Broca's aphasia are transitive sentences while the picture depicts the unaccusative reading. This pattern does not occur in the patients with anomic/Wernicke's aphasia. The results are taken as support for the hypothesis that sentences in which the verb and its arguments are not in their base position are difficult for patients with broca's aphasia. (c) 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved

Year: 2005
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.jneuroling.2004.11.006
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Provided by: NARCIS
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