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Cohesion in narratives written by participants with aphasia

Conference contribution
Authors Ingrid Behrns
Elisabeth Ahlsén
Published in the 14th Meeting of the International Clinical Phonetics and Linguistics Association, Cork, Ireland
Publication year 2012
Published at Centre of Interdisciplinary Research/Cognition/Information. SSKKII (2010-)
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation
Department of Applied Information Technology (GU)
Language en
Keywords aphasia, cohesion, writing, narratives
Subject categories Logopedics and phoniatrics, Linguistics


Cohesion in narratives written by participants with aphasia The number of studies analysing written discourse and aphasia are limited but results indicate similarities with spoken language, in that general narrative structure is good despite manifested difficulties on other linguistic levels. This study is using analyses of cohesion suggested by Armstrong (2000) based on the work by Halliday and Hasan (1976) where cohesion was defined as a semantic relation between an element in the text and some other element that is crucial to the interpretation to it (Halliday, 1976, p 8). Method Eight men and two women with aphasia in the age range of 28 to 67 years (mean 42.5 years) took part in the study. The participants were asked to tell a story on the topic ‘I have never been so afraid’ and the narratives were produced on a Macintosh computer. The written texts were analysed for number of adequate cohesive ties/T-unit and for diversity of cohesive ties. The group’s results were compared with findings from ten participants in a reference group. Results Analysis showed that the participants with aphasia produced significantly fewer adequate cohesive ties (mean 1.7, SD 0.6) than the participants in the reference group (mean 2.5, SD 0.33) (z=-2.8, p=0.004). There was however no significant difference between the two groups’ distribution of cohesive ties. Discussion The participants with aphasia wrote narratives containing incomplete cohesive ties. However the stories were produced with a diversity of cohesive ties that were similar to the pattern of the reference group’s. This is in accordance with results from a study of oral narratives by Lock and Armstrong (1997) where participants with aphasia produced stories with “the full repertoire” of cohesive ties. Lock and Armstrong (1997) attributed the participants’ ability to produce “the full repertoire” of cohesive ties to their preserved ability to, in spite of aphasic difficulties, find strategies to keep the discourse working. The same results was found in the present study References Armstrong, E. (2000). Aphasic discourse analysis: The story so far. Aphasiology, vol 14, no 9, p 875 – 892. Halliday, M.A.K. & Hasan, R. (1976). Cohesion in English. London: Longman group Ltd. Lock, S. & Armstrong, L. (1997). Cohesion analysis of the expiratory discourse of normal, fluent aphasic and demented adults: a role in differential diagnosis? Clinical linguistics and phonetics, vol 11, no 4, p 299-317.

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