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Spared syntax and impaired spell-out: the case of prepositions in Broca's and anomic aphasia

Mätzig, S.; (2009) Spared syntax and impaired spell-out: the case of prepositions in Broca's and anomic aphasia. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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The present study deals with the impairment of prepositions, a somewhat neglected topic in aphasia research. It is the first to investigate the availability of all types of prepositions (i.e., spatial, temporal, other meaningful, subcategorized, syntactic prepositions, and particles) in a variety of comprehension and production tasks in one anomic aphasic and four Broca’s aphasic patients and healthy speakers. While the availability of spatial, temporal, or subcategorized prepositions has been investigated, other preposition types have never been studied before. The data revealed that prepositions were impaired in the patients, and that the degree of impairment differed for different types of prepositions. Three of the main findings are: first, meaningless prepositions were not the most vulnerable subcategory of prepositions in the patients. In fact, four of the five aphasic patients performed best on (meaningless) syntactic prepositions. Second, patients made few omissions and many substitution errors which were mostly within-category (a preposition was substituted by another preposition). Third, there was no difference in the performance of Broca’s and anomic aphasic patients. These results differ from those of previous studies (e.g., Bennis et al., 1983; Friederici, 1982). They found that (i) meaningful prepositions remained relatively well preserved in Broca’s aphasia, while meaningless subcategorized and/or syntactic prepositions were very impaired, (ii) that Broca’s aphasic patients tended to omit rather than substitute prepositions, and (iii) that patients of contrasting clinical profiles performed differently. The preservation of syntactic prepositions together with the large number of within-category substitutions (which indicate sensitivity to the grammatical class of prepositions) were interpreted to suggest that the preposition deficit of the patients is not due to syntactic impairments. Rather, a post syntactic deficit in selection of the correct preposition at spell-out – a construct in modern linguistic theory that links syntax with phonology – is put forward.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Spared syntax and impaired spell-out: the case of prepositions in Broca's and anomic aphasia
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Linguistics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/15806
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