Event Abstract

Passive Sentence Comprehension in Thai Agrammatic Speakers

  • 1 University of Potsdam, Linguistics, Germany
  • 2 University of Groningen, Clinical Linguistics, Netherlands
  • 3 University of Eastern Finland, Linguistics, Finland

Several studies have reported that sentence comprehension in agrammatic aphasia is relatively impaired. In particular, semantically reversible sentences whose arguments are in their derived, not in their base, positions (e.g. object relative clauses, object clefts, and passives) are shown to be less correctly understood than their counterparts (e.g. subject relative clauses, subject clefts, and actives). According to the Derived Order Problem Hypothesis (DOP-H) (Bastiaanse & Van Zonneveld, 2005; 2006), comprehension of derived order sentences is poorer than that of the base order ones. Many studies have confirmed this (Bastiaanse & Thompson, 2003; Bastiaanse & Van Zonneveld, 2005; 2006; Yarbay Duman, Ozgirgin, Altinok & Bastiaanse, 2011). Yet, the focus of these previous studies has primarily been on Indo-European languages. Scarce attention has been given to Southeast Asian ones, such as Thai. As Thai uses a particular type of passives (passives with adversative verbs, or passive-bias verbs), a derived order, as frequently as actives, a base order, it is not clear yet whether the same impairment is observed. This raises two questions: (1) Are there similarities or differences in active and passive sentence comprehension in Thai agrammatic speakers? (2) Is comprehension of passive sentences with adversative verbs (passive-bias verbs), whose arguments are in a derived order, impaired in Thai agrammatic speakers? In our study, we examined not only the actives and passives sentence comprehension, but also the interaction effect of word orders (actives and passives) and verb types (adversative verbs and non-adversative verbs). We administered a two-choice sentence-picture matching task on 4 agrammatic speakers and 4 non-brain-damaged speakers. Our test items were categorized into 4 conditions on a 2x2 design (word orders x verb types). According to the DOP-H, for agrammatic speakers, a good performance is predicted for sentences in base order—actives—while a poor performance is predicted for sentences in derived order—passives. However, we hypothesize that there will be an interaction effect with frequency. In brief, the derived order sentences will be more difficult to comprehend in passives with non-adversative verbs, where they are less frequently used, than passives with adversative verbs. The passive sentences with adversative verbs will also be comprehended less well than the active sentences (both with adversative and non-adversative verbs) due to the high frequency of adversative passive sentences in Thai. As for the actives base order, it is hypothesized that active sentences with non-adversative verbs will be comprehended as equally well as the active sentences with adversative verbs. Having gathered the data, and performed a generalized linear model, we found that, as predicted by the DOP-H, the agrammatic speakers have more problems comprehending sentences in a derived order (passives) than in a base order (actives) condition. The interaction effect of sentence types and verb types was observed. Participants’ performances vary depending on both word order and verb frequency. Further, as hypothesized, comprehension of passive construction with non-adversative verbs is more challenging than that of passive construction with adversative verbs (passive-bias verbs). The finding implies that it is not only the derived order that is a problem in Thai individuals with agrammatic aphasia, but also frequency and/or lexical bias—verb types—that play a role in sentence comprehension.

Figure 1


My sincere gratitude goes to all of my supervisors, Prof. Dr. Frank Burchert, Dr. Alexandre Nikolaev, and Prof. Dr. Roelien Bastiaanse. Despite the long distance of each professor’s whereabouts—Germany, Finland, and the Netherlands—, their continuous support and guidance did not cease to stop. I thank my colleagues and my coordinators from the Erasmus Mundus program in Clinical Linguistics (EMCL) for making me feel like home wherever I am.


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Keywords: Derived Order Problem Hypothesis (DOP-H), Frequency, Lexical Bias, passive sentences, word order, agrammatic aphasia, Thai, sentence comprehension

Conference: Academy of Aphasia 55th Annual Meeting , Baltimore, United States, 5 Nov - 7 Nov, 2017.

Presentation Type: oral presentation

Topic: Consider for student award

Citation: Siriboonpipattana W, Burchert F, Bastiaanse R and Nikolaev A (2019). Passive Sentence Comprehension in Thai Agrammatic Speakers. Conference Abstract: Academy of Aphasia 55th Annual Meeting . doi: 10.3389/conf.fnhum.2017.223.00102

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Received: 02 May 2017; Published Online: 25 Jan 2019.

* Correspondence: Miss. Wilasinee Siriboonpipattana, University of Potsdam, Linguistics, Potsdam, 14476, Germany, wilasinee.sir@gmail.com