Canadian Journal of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology

Variation in Grammatic Complexity Across Three Types of Discourse

Author(s) Edith Chin Li, PhD
Angela Delta Volpe, PhD
Stuart Ritterman, PhD
Sarah E Williams, PhD, JD
Volume 20
Number 3
Year 1996
Page(s) 180-186
Language English
Keywords grammatic
Abstract This study investigated variations in grammatic competence in three types of discourse: picture description, procedural discourse, and story retelling. Twenty-two patients with aphasia (5 Broca's, 7 conduction, and 10 anomic) and 10 persons with normal speech served as participants. Three grammatic measures were considered: words per T-unit, clauses per T-unit, and percentage of dependent clauses. For all three measures, the picture description task elicited the most complex grammatic usage. The story retelling task consistently ranked the lowest in grammatic complexity and was significantly lower than the picture description task in all three measures. It may be inferred from these trends that patients with aphasia and those with normal speech both use discourse that is grammatically more complex in tasks with less structure or constraint.

L'étude portait sur la variation de la compétence grammaticale dans trois formes de discours : la description d'une illustration, l'explication d'une procédure et la narration d'une histoire. Vingt-deux sujets atteints d'aphasie (5 d'aphasie de Broca, 7 d'aphasie de conduction et 10 d'aphasie amnésique) et 10 personnes ayant une élocution normale ont participé à l'étude. Trois mesures grammaticales ont été envisagées : le nombre de mots par unité de temps, le nombre de phrases par unité de temps et la proportion de relatives. Dans les trois cas, c'est la description de l'illustration qui a suscité l'usage le plus complexe de la grammaire. La narration de l'histoire s'est toujours classée au dernier rang pour ce qui est de la complexité grammaticale et donne des résultats significativement plus faibles que la description de l'illustration, pour les trois mesures. On en déduit que les personnes atteintes d'aphasie et les témoins se servent d'un langage grammaticalement plus complexe dans les tâches moins structurées ou comprenant moins de contraintes.
Record ID 176
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