Event Abstract

Comprehension of wh-questions in Turkish-German bilingual speakers with fluent and non-fluent aphasia: a multiple case study

  • 1 University of Potsdam, Potsdam Research Institute for Multilingualism, Germany

We investigated the comprehension of wh-questions in both Turkish, a wh-in-situ language, and German, a wh-movement language, in two bilingual individuals with aphasia. Agrammatic speakers of wh-movement languages such as English and German tend to have more difficulties comprehending object questions than subject ones (e.g. Hanne, Burchert, & Vasishth, 2015; Hickok & Avrutin, 1996; Neuhaus & Penke, 2008). Furthermore, agrammatic speakers of French, a language that has both wh-in-situ and wh-movement options, perform poorly on wh-movement questions (van der Meulen, Bastiaanse, & Rooryck, 2005). Assessing two typologically different languages in the same brain is a compelling way to test whether interpreting wh-questions generally causes difficulties in bilingual individuals or whether it is only movement that is problematic. Few studies have addressed this issue (e.g. Munarriz, Ezeizabarrena, & Gutierrez-Mangado, 2014) and the extent to which wh-movement plays a role in potential cross-linguistic dissociations is still to be investigated. We explored: (1) whether Turkish-German bilingual speakers with aphasia show selective deficits in their comprehension of different types of wh-questions, and (2) whether bilinguals with aphasia show cross-linguistic dissociations. We administered a sentence-to-picture-pointing task to two Turkish-German bilingual women, one with fluent aphasia (age=65, mpo=4 months) and one with non-fluent aphasia (age=42, mpo=114 months) assessed using the Bilingual Aphasia Test (Paradis, 1989), in comparison to a group of non-brain-damaged bilinguals (NBDs, n=4, age=45.2). The tasks contained four conditions: Subject-who/which (e.g. Kim adamı öpüyor?/Hangi kadın adamı öpüyor? “Who is kissing the man?/Which woman is kissing the man?”) and Object-who/which questions (e.g. Kadın kimi öpüyor?/Kadın hangi adamı öpüyor? “Who is the woman kissing/Which man is the woman kissing?”). The participants were tested once in Turkish and once in German, with an interval of a week. The single-case methods of Crawford, Garthwaite, and Porter (2010) were used in the analyses. Our results show that the NBDs performed above 97% accuracy in all conditions in both the Turkish and German tasks. Results from the fluent patient (ŞS) showed that she performed worse than the NBDs in all conditions in both Turkish and German, with no dissociations between either the experimental conditions or the two languages, indicating a global comprehension deficit (see Figure 1). Results from the non-fluent patient (SK) showed that she performed at NBD-level in German across all conditions. In Turkish, however, her performance was worse than the NBDs' in both the Subject-which (t(3)=-5.88, p=0.004) and the Subject-who conditions (t(3)=-3.33, p=0.022), while no such deficits were found for the Object-which or Object-who conditions. No cross-condition dissociations proved reliable in either Turkish or German. However, a cross-linguistic dissociation emerged: SK performed worse for Turkish Subject-which questions than for corresponding German ones (t(3)=-2.87, p=0.031). This cross-linguistic difference was not observed for object questions. Thes results reported here are not in line with those from previous studies: SK’s deficit in comprehending Turkish subject-which questions was not expected, providing counter-evidence to the classical asymmetrical “object-question deficit”. We argue that the existence of overt syntactic movement in wh-questions is not a critical factor in the comprehension deficits observed in our two case studies. Figure Captions: Figure 1: Bilingual Turkish-German speaking fluent (ŞS) and non-fluent (SK) aphasia patients’ performances in comprehending wh-question in German and Turkish

Figure 1


Crawford, J. R., Garthwaite, P. H., & Porter, S. (2010). Point and interval estimates of effect sizes for the case-controls design in neuropsychology: Rationale, methods, implementations, and proposed reporting standards. Cognitive Neuropsychology, 27(3), 245-260.

Hanne, S., Burchert, F., & Vasishth, S. (2015). On the nature of the subject–object asymmetry in wh-question comprehension in aphasia: evidence from eye tracking. Aphasiology, 1-28.

Hickok, G., & Avrutin, S. (1996). Comprehension of wh-questions in two Broca's aphasics. Brain and language, 52(2), 314-327.

Munarriz, A., Ezeizabarrena, M.-J., & Gutierrez-Mangado, M. J. (2014). Differential and selective morpho-syntactic impairment in Spanish-Basque bilingual aphasia. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 1-24.

Neuhaus, E., & Penke, M. (2008). Production and comprehension of wh-questions in German Broca's aphasia. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 21(2), 150-176.

Paradis, M. (1989). Bilingual Aphasia Test. McGill University.

van der Meulen, I., Bastiaanse, R., & Rooryck, J. (2005). Wh-questions in agrammatism: a movement deficit? Stem-, Spraak-en Taalpathologie, 13(1).

Keywords: wh-questions, bilingual aphasia, Turkish-German bilingualism, sentence comprehension, wh-movement

Conference: 54th Annual Academy of Aphasia Meeting, Llandudno, United Kingdom, 16 Oct - 18 Oct, 2016.

Presentation Type: Poster Sessions

Topic: Academy of Aphasia

Citation: Arslan S and Felser C (2016). Comprehension of wh-questions in Turkish-German bilingual speakers with fluent and non-fluent aphasia: a multiple case study. Front. Psychol. Conference Abstract: 54th Annual Academy of Aphasia Meeting. doi: 10.3389/conf.fpsyg.2016.68.00016

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Received: 19 Apr 2016; Published Online: 15 Aug 2016.

* Correspondence: Dr. Seçkin Arslan, University of Potsdam, Potsdam Research Institute for Multilingualism, Potsdam, Potsdam, 14476, Germany, seckin1984@gmail.com