By Mary-Louise Kean

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Kean argues that the elements omitted by agrammatics are the phonological clitics. The value of Kean's account of agrammatism is that it offers an inde­ pendently motivated characterization of the class of elements that are presumably impaired in agrammatism. However, there are questions about the adequacy of the linguistic theory she has used to motivate this grammatical distinction (Lapointe, 1983), and it is not clear that this account explains the full range of features that characterize agrammatism.

These problems with regard to defining syndromes have obvious implications for the study of agrammatism. Originally described as a single symptom within a larger syndrome of Broca's aphasia (Kleist, 1916; Pick, 1913), agrammatism seems to have evolved into a loosely defined syndrome in its own right. Indeed, we have interpreted agram­ matism to be the central and defining feature of a redefined syndrome of Broca's aphasia (Berndt & Caramazza, 1980). The redefinition of that syndrome involved a change in its definition to reflect the framework described here; that is, all of the symptoms found within that syndrome 32 Alfonso Caramazza and Rita Sloan Berndt were attributed to deficits to psycholinguistically defined processing mechanisms.

It is from this perspec­ tive that we approach our discussion of agrammatism. A psycholinguistic approach to aphasie disorders entails a commit­ ment to specific assumptions about the nature of language breakdown consequent to brain damage. These assumptions can be made explicit by considering, even if only in relatively general terms, the structure of psycholinguistic theories. In turn, the explicit formulation of the as­ sumptions that underlie this approach to the analysis of language disor­ ders permits us to consider the form of data that is relevant to such an approach.

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