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Title: Processing of syntactic dependencies in agrammatism : the role of predictability
Author: Varkanitsa, Maria
ISNI:       0000 0004 5352 4510
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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The aim of this thesis is to explore the role of Predictability, that is, whether or not a dependency can be identified at an early stage of derivation on the basis of syntactic cues, in the sentence comprehension deficits in agrammatism. To that end, I investigate the comprehension of sentences with scope relations by Greek-speaking patients with agrammatic and non-agrammatic aphasia. Three different structures are investigated, namely sentences with contrastive focus in the object DP, ambiguous doubly quantified sentences and double object constructions with quantified object DPs. More specifically, sentences with contrastive foci provide an appropriate minimal pair to explore the role of Predictability. The reason is that in Greek object contrastive foci can either appear pre-verbally after A’-movement, resulting in predictable dependencies, or remain in situ. In situ contrastive foci require covert movement operations in order to be interpreted contrastively, resulting in unpredictable dependencies. My experimental hypothesis is that the agrammatic patients will exhibit a dissociation in processing predictable and unpredictable dependencies, with the former being impaired compared to the latter. To provide further evidence that successful processing of sentences with in situ contrastive foci reflects patients’ intact knowledge of covert movement mechanisms I examine the comprehension of ambiguous doubly quantified sentences, whose inverse scope interpretation requires the establishment of a covert movement dependency. The reason for examining double object constructions with quantified DPs is to further explore whether agrammatic patients are able to construct complex syntactic representation. The results indicate that problems with syntactic processing in agrammatic patients are largely confined to predictable dependencies, with performance on unpredictable dependencies relatively unimpaired.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available