Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2001

Abstract

Agrammatic verb errors are characterized by a reliance on simple verb forms without elaborated inflectional markings. Yet agrammatism studies on verbs have not addressed the possible correlations that might exist between pre-morbid verb use patterns and agrammatic verb production, especially frequency in oral discourse. Spanish, a language with a highly inflected verb system, is a useful context to explore this interaction. This study investigated agrammatic and normal verb use for those Spanish verb tenses found in daily conversation (Silva-Corval/m, 1983; Bentivoglio and Sedano, 1992). We analyzed agrammatic verb performance in spoken discourse and a sentence repetition task, and compared it with verb use in normal spoken and printed narratives. Findings suggested that the present was the most frequently used tense by both agrammatics and normals. The preterit, the second most frequent tense in normals, was similarly employed correctly by agrammatic subjects in the repetition task but was not present in their discourse. All other verb tenses, minimally found in normal texts, were similarly never produced in agrammatic discourse or minimally produced correctly in agrammatic sentence repetition. These results suggest that daily verb use patterns have a facilitating effect on verb use by Spanish-speaking agrammatic subjects. They agree with earlier arguments supporting the resistance of highfrequency words to errors in normal and aphasic speakers (Hall, 1954; Howes, 1964; Rochford & Williams, 1984), possibly a reflection of an automatic, routinized, and overlearned nature due to their early acquisition (Schnitzer, 1989), and a significant degree of lexical strength (Bybee, 1985; 1995; Stemberger & MacWhinney, 1986).

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