Direct speech constructions in aphasic Dutch narratives

Rimke Groenewold*, Roelien Bastiaanse, Mike Huiskes

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Previous studies have shown that individuals with aphasia are usually able to produce direct reported speech constructions. So far these studies have mainly been conducted in English. The results show that direct speech is beneficial for aphasic speakers for various reasons. In Dutch the construction goes along with a grammatical characteristic that makes it attractive for aphasic speakers. This study examines the diffuse phenomenon of direct speech in narratives of Dutch individuals with and without aphasia. Aims: The purpose of this study is to assess the use of direct speech in the semi-spontaneous speech of Dutch individuals with aphasia. The question is whether this construction, which is highly communicative, is used by aphasic speakers and in which forms it becomes manifest. In addition the effect of the nature of the underlying disorder, (i.e., grammatical versus lexical), is assessed. Methods & Procedures: A total of 61 transcripts of individuals with aphasia (n=31) and 146 transcripts of non-brain-damaged speakers (n=88) were analysed. The question of how the forms and relative frequencies of direct speech constructions differ across tasks and subgroups is addressed. For this purpose the relative frequencies of direct speech are determined and compared within and between tasks and subgroups. In addition different forms of the phenomenon are distinguished and categorised based on the patterns found in the data. Outcomes & Results: Individuals with aphasia use direct speech significantly more often than non-brain-damaged speakers. Individuals with Broca's aphasia exhibit a preference for direct speech constructions without a reporting verb, whereas individuals with anomic aphasia predominantly produce instances of direct speech that do include a reporting verb. Even though all subgroups produce direct speech constructions, the frequencies and forms vary across tasks and subgroups. Conclusions: Both groups make use of various forms of direct speech but the frequencies and distributions over categories are different. A possible explanation for the greater production of direct speech by aphasic speakers is its strategic utilisation to get around grammatical problems and word-finding difficulties. There is a quantitative difference between the individuals with anomic aphasia and the control speakers, whereas the difference between the individuals with Broca's aphasia and the control group is qualitative in nature. An explanation for the dissimilarities between the aphasic subgroups is the difference in grammatical complexity between subtypes of direct speech constructions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)546-567
    Number of pages22
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 1-May-2013


    • Aphasia
    • Direct speech
    • Discourse production
    • Spontaneous speech

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