Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences


Loraine Obler

Committee Members

Helen S. Cairns

Luisa Garro

Subject Categories

Speech and Hearing Science


Studies on agrammatic verb errors have basically addressed the production of verb forms as whole lexical units without looking at their inflectional affixes. There has been limited research assessing the possible role of the variables encapsulated in verbal inflections in verb access and retrieval. The purpose of this investigation was to, first, address the possible factors causing a hierarchy of sparing in Spanish verb inflections, and, second, extend the explanatory factors proposed by earlier cross-linguistic investigations on verb inflectional performance by agrammatic speakers. This investigation studied the production of verb inflections by agrammatic Spanish speakers in a sentence repetition task.

Twelve native Venezuelan Spanish-speaking subjects, six agrammatics and six controls, participated in this study. The variables predicted to have a critical role in simple and compound verb repetition were: verb form structure, daily usage frequency, theme vowel frequency, paradigmatic frequency, stress, syllabic length, and number. Two separate analyses of the subjects' responses were conducted. The first analysis assessed the number of correct responses per variable feature for all the presented experimental stimuli, namely, simple and compound verb forms. The second analysis, only involving the variables that were significant in the first analysis and pairing each variable with each other, was only conducted for the correct responses for simple verb forms.

Overall findings showed a hierarchy of importance of variables in verb repetition by agrammatic Spanish-speaking subjects. First, three variables consistently emerged as primary factors in successful verb repetition by the agrammatic subjects in both analyses: syllabic length, number, and daily usage frequency. Second, stress, having a crucial facilitating role in the first analysis, did not show such a strong effect in the second analysis. Third, paradigmatic frequency did not have any impact in the second analysis. Finally, conjugation class did not have a significant effect in the first analysis (and so was not used in the second analysis). These results imply that short, singular, frequently used, and, possibly, unstressed verb inflections are the most likely to be repeated correctly by Spanish-speaking agrammatics.


Digital reproduction from the UMI microform.