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Syntactic and pragmatic aspects of determiner and pronoun production in Dutch agrammatic Broca's aphasia

Ruigendijk, Ester and Baauw, Sergio
Syntactic and pragmatic aspects of determiner and pronoun production in Dutch agrammatic Broca's aphasia . Aphasiology, 21(6-8), August, 2007, pages 535-547.


Background: Agrammatic aphasic individuals produce a lower than normal number of pronouns and determiners in their spontaneous speech. Interestingly, linguistically these two types of functional categories have some properties in common. In Dutch, the language that was studied, both categories depend on case, both are marked for gender, and both carry pragmatic information. These properties relate to different levels of linguistic processing. Case is a syntactic property, gender is lexically specified for determiners, and semantically for pronouns (in Dutch), and the pragmatic function relates to the distinction between definiteness and indefiniteness; that is, whether something refers to information already introduced in the discourse or to new information respectively.

Aims: The aim of this study was therefore to find out if and how far each of these properties (case, gender, and pragmatic information) contributes to the problems agrammatic speakers have with the production of determiners and pronouns.

Methods & Procedures: We analysed spontaneous speech samples of eight Dutch-speaking agrammatic aphasic individuals with regard to the omission and production rates of determiners and pronouns, taking into account the different linguistic properties.

Outcomes & Results: The analyses revealed that the syntactic property of determiners and pronouns, case, contributes most to the agrammatic problems. Gender information seems to be unproblematic. Finally, our aphasic speakers omitted relatively more indefinite determiners than definite determiners. It is not completely clear yet whether this is related to a problem with indefinites. The error analysis shows that pragmatic information as such seems to be unimpaired.

Conclusions: The syntactic aspects of determiners and pronouns play an important role in the problems agrammatic speakers have with these elements. More detailed research may be needed to investigate the distinction between indefiniteness and definiteness in determiners. Our results suggest that the production of determiners and pronouns should always be treated with a focus on their syntactic property: their dependency on case-assigning categories.

EPrint Type:Journal (Paginated)
ID Code:1785
Conference:International Aphasia Rehabilitation Conference: International Aphasia Rehabilitation Conference (2006: 12th: Sheffield. U.K.: 4-6 June, 2006)
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
Alternative Locations:
DOI or Unique Handle:10.1080/02687030701191911