Verbs and time reference in Standard Indonesian agrammatic speech

Harwintha Yuhria Anjarningsih, Roelien Bastiaanse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: It has been shown for a number of languages that verb retrieval and verb inflection are impaired in agrammatic speech. Several studies showed that, while some agrammatic speakers are relatively good in verb retrieval but poor in verb inflection, others show the inverse pattern (Dutch: Bastiaanse & Jonkers, 1998; Italian: Rossi & Bastiaanse, 2008, among others). However, not all languages use verb inflection to express sentence internal and external relationships, such as agreement, tense, and aspect; some use free-standing grammatical morphemes instead. Standard Indonesian (SI) is such a language. Aims: The aim of the current study is to find out whether the production of free-standing grammatical morphemes-which specify time frame and are thus comparable to tense and aspect inflection in other languages-is impaired in SI agrammatic spontaneous speech, and whether there is a similar inverse relationship between verb retrieval and the use of these morphemes, as suggested by findings on verb inflection in other languages. Methods & Procedures: A total of 21 adult speakers of SI (6 with Broca's aphasia with mild to moderate agrammatic speech and 15 without history of neurological problems) participated in the study. From the speech of each participant 300 words were extracted, and the occurrence of verbal predicates, aspectual adverbs, and lexical adverbs of time was counted. Type-token ratios (TTR) were used to express the diversity of lexical verbs produced, and the proportion of aspectual and temporal lexical adverbs per verbal predicate was calculated for all participants. Outcomes & Results: An inverse relationship was observed between the verb variability and the proportion of aspectual adverbs. The agrammatic participants who used a low proportion of aspectual adverbs did not compensate with over-production of lexical adverbs. Conclusions: Based on the results of the current study we propose that the inverse relationship between lexical diversity of the verbs and the use of aspectual adverbs reflects the same underlying deficit as the inverse relationship between lexical diversity of verbs and verb inflection observed in Dutch and Italian. Apparently it is difficult for agrammatic speakers to simultaneously retrieve verbs (names of the events) and specify the time frame in which the events take place. This has some important clinical implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1562-1578
Number of pages17
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Agrammatism
  • Bahasa Indonesia
  • Indonesian
  • Spontaneous speech
  • Time reference


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