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Time reference and aspect in agrammatic aphasia: Evidence from Greek

Conference contribution
Authors Valantis Fyndanis
Charalambos Themistocleous
Paraskevi Christidou
Published in Front. Hum. Neurosci. Conference Abstract: Academy of Aphasia, 55th Annual Meeting, Baltimore, United States, 5 Nov - 7 Nov, 2017.
ISSN 1662-5161
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.3389/conf.fnhum.2017....
Keywords tense/time reference, aspect, Greek, morphosyntactic/morphosemantic production, Aphasia
Subject categories Pathology, Computational linguistics, General Language Studies and Linguistics, Linguistics

Abstract

Time reference, which has been found to be selectively impaired in agrammatic aphasia (e.g., Bastiaanse et al., 2011), is often interwoven with grammatical aspect. Dragoy and Bastiaanse (2013) investigated the relationship between time reference/tense and aspect focusing on Russian aphasia and found that the two interact: past reference was less impaired when tested within perfective aspect (compared to when tested within imperfective aspect), and reference to the nonpast was less impaired when tested within imperfective aspect (compared to when tested within perfective aspect). To account for this pattern, Dragoy and Bastiaanse (2013: 114) claimed that “perfectives primarily refer to completed, past events while imperfectives prototypically describe ongoing, non-past events”. This study explores the relationship between time reference and aspect focusing on Greek aphasia. In Greek, verb forms referring to the past and future encode the perfective-imperfective contrast. Dragoy and Bastiaanse (2013) would make predictions PR1–PR4 for Greek. (PR1) past reference within perfective aspect > past reference within imperfective aspect; (PR2) future reference within perfective aspect < future reference within imperfective aspect; (PR3) perfective aspect within past reference > imperfective aspect within past reference; (PR4) perfective aspect within future reference < imperfective aspect within future reference. Methods Eight Greek-speaking persons with agrammatic aphasia (PWA) and eight controls were administered a sentence completion task consisting of 128 experimental source sentence (SS)-target sentence (TS) pairs. There were eight subconditions, each of which consisted of 16 items: past reference within perfective aspect; past reference within imperfective aspect; future reference within perfective aspect; future reference within imperfective aspect; perfective aspect within past reference; imperfective aspect within past reference; perfective aspect within future reference; imperfective aspect within future reference. Participants were auditorily presented with a SS and the beginning of the TS, and were asked to orally complete the TS producing the missing Verb Phrase. We fitted generalized linear mixed-effect models and employed Fisher’s exact tests to make within-participant comparisons. Results Overall, the aphasic group fared significantly worse than the control group (p < 0.001). At the group level, none of the four relevant comparisons (see PR1–PR4) yielded significant differences for PWA (Table 1). Four PWA (P1, P3, P7, P8) exhibited dissociations, with three of them making up a double dissociation: P1 performed better on imperfective aspect-future reference than on perfective aspect-future reference (p < 0.001), and P7 and P8 exhibited the opposite pattern (p = 0.016 and p < 0.001 for P7 and P8, respectively). Discussion Results are not consistent with Dragoy and Bastiaanse’s (2013) findings, which challenges the idea of prototypical and non-prototypical associations between time reference and aspect. The double dissociation that emerged in the aspect condition indicates that a given time reference-aspect combination may be relatively easy to process for some PWA but demanding for some others. Thus, studies investigating tense/time reference in aphasia should ensure that this grammatical/semantic category is not confounded by aspect.

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