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The Relationship Between Language Impairment and Narrative Organisation: New Methods to Measure Deviation from the “Typical Structure”

EasyChair Preprint no. 6409

3 pagesDate: August 26, 2021


Investigations into narrative performance in aphasia allow us to evaluate how language impairment may affect communicative success. Previous research examining the relationship between language and narrative structure (micro- vs. macrostructure) focused primarily on lexical, grammatical and coherence errors. We applied a new frequentist approach to examine how “typical” each chunk of the narrative is in relation to controls. Dinner Party cartoon descriptions were elicited from 20 English speakers with aphasia and 30 controls. Among the microstructure variables analyzed were word count, mean length of utterance (MLU), errors, and grammatical complexity. At the macrostructural level, we recorded the number of basic propositions narrating the story (e.g., the man washing the dishes), and qualitative descriptors adding evaluation (e.g., “he is not going to get away with that”), among others. Using concepts from the artificial language learning literature, the new variable “Associative Chunk Strength” (ACS) was devised to capture how typical a transition between two propositions is in reference to control data. At the microlevel, participants with aphasia had a shorter MLU, produced less complex grammatical structures, and made more referential and syntactic errors (all p < .001). At the macrolevel, groups did not differ in terms of narrative organization through the sequencing of basic propositions (p = .20), but participants with aphasia produced fewer qualitative descriptors (p = .02). Examining the relationship between micro- and macrostructure, MLU was the best predictor of ACS and the proportion of qualitative descriptors in speakers with aphasia (p < .001). Overall, results suggest that narrative organization skills in aphasia may not be impacted, despite language impairment.

Keyphrases: discourse, language, narrative analysis

BibTeX entry
BibTeX does not have the right entry for preprints. This is a hack for producing the correct reference:
  author = {Andromachi Tsoukala and Wolfram Hinzen and Rosemary Varley and Vitor Zimmerer},
  title = {The Relationship Between Language Impairment and Narrative Organisation: New Methods to Measure Deviation from the “Typical Structure”},
  howpublished = {EasyChair Preprint no. 6409},

  year = {EasyChair, 2021}}
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