PhD ceremony: ms.
T. Yarbay Duman, 14.45 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen
Thesis: Turkish agrammatic aphasia. Word order, time reference and case
Promotor(s): prof. Y.R.M. Bastiaanse, prof. G. Aygen
Aphasia is a language disorder caused by brain damage. Damage to the left frontal regions of the brain may result in grammatical disorders. The aphasic speaker with such a disorder is no longer able to understand complex grammatical constructions like ‘the boy is chased by the girl’. He speaks in short and simple sentences in which mainly nouns, verbs and adjectives are used: small words are left out. This symptom complex is called ‘Broca's aphasia’ or ‘agrammatism’. This is the first dissertation that focuses on agrammatism in Turkish. Several experiments have been conducted to find out the nature of the underlying deficit in Turkish agrammatic aphasia.
In Turkish, unlike Dutch, word order is free and case is decisive in determining who does what to whom. Furthermore, in Turkish, verb inflection can be used to refer to the past (ben etek ütüledim, ‘I have ironed the skirt’) and future (ben etek ütüleyeceğim, ‘I will iron the skirt’). The findings show that although word order is relatively free, agrammatic speakers prefer producing sentences with subject-object-verb order. Sentences with this order are also easiest to understand, but only when simple case marking is used. Finally, reference to the past with verbs is selectively impaired for Turkish agrammatic speakers, just as it is for Dutch speakers.
Although Turkish and Dutch are structurally very different languages, the same problems arise: word order and reference to the past are difficult. Case is relatively unaffected, but it does not always help the agrammatic speaker to understand sentences.
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