Io Salmons & Anna Gavarró


Intervention effects in Catalan agrammatism

Editorial: Glossa: a journal of general linguistics (Open Library of Humanities)
Data de publicació: 31 de desembre del 2022

Text complet

The goal of the present study is to test the agrammatic comprehension of clitic left dislocation and contrastive focus in Catalan, in order to evaluate the Generalised Minimality hypothesis of Grillo (2009). According to this hypothesis, the comprehension deficit observed in agrammatism is the result of the underspecification of scope-discourse features giving rise to generalised intervention effects. We conducted two sentence-picture matching tasks to assess the comprehension of clitic left dislocation and contrastive focus with nine and seven Broca’s aphasic subjects, respectively, as well as control participants. The results show that the comprehension of SVO sentences and object clitics was preserved, whereas the comprehension of object dislocations and object focalisations was compromised. These findings are consistent with the analysis of the deficit as an instance of generalised intervention effects. Yet, we also examined the prediction that a relevant syntactic feature mismatch between the subject and the object would suffice to block generalised minimality effects; in particular, the number features of subject and object were controlled for. The agrammatic subjects’ performance on mismatched sentences did not differ from their performance on sentences where the subject and the object were matched in number. These findings call the hypothesis into question and stress the need for future research.