The Aphasiology Archive
University Library System, University of Pittsburgh

“Let me tell you the point”: How speakers with aphasia assign prominence to information in narratives

Olness, Gloria Streit and Matteson, Samuel E. and Stewart, Craig T.
“Let me tell you the point”: How speakers with aphasia assign prominence to information in narratives . Aphasiology, 24(6-8), June, 2010, pages 697-708.


Background: A central purpose of narration is to convey one's point of view about a narrated event. One's expressed evaluation of a narrated event (modalising behaviour) is often differentiated from one's expression of the sequence of events proper (referential behaviour). Modalising and referential language may be dissociated in aphasia, with modalising language relatively preserved. Use of narrative evaluative devices is one way to modalise, transmit significance, or assign prominence to information in narratives.

Aims: This study examines the frequency of use, co-occurrence, and distribution of multiple evaluative devices in the personal narratives of speakers with aphasia, as compared to that of narratives produced by demographically similar speakers without aphasia.

Methods & Procedures: Participants were 33 demographically matched, English-speaking, middle-aged adults. Of these, 17 had aphasia, and 16 had no neurological disorder. Each group included similar proportions of three demographic subgroups: African-American males, African-American females, and Caucasian females. Each participant told a personal narrative of a frightening experience. Narrative evaluative devices in the narratives were analysed for their frequency, co-occurrence, and distribution in the narrative structure.

Outcomes & Results: The frequency of use of narrative evaluative devices, their co-occurrence, and their distribution in the narrative structure were similar for narratives of individuals with and without aphasia, unless narrative structure was compromised, e.g., in narrators with relatively more severe aphasia.

Conclusions: The relatively intact ability of individuals with aphasia to assign prominence to information in narratives once again raises questions on the neurological underpinnings of modalising language. The clinical potential for assessment and treatment that incorporates narrative evaluative devices needs to be further explored.

EPrint Type:Journal (Paginated)
ID Code:1834
Conference:Clinical Aphasiology Conference: Clinical Aphasiology Conference (2009 : 39th : Keystone, CO : May 26-30, 2009)
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
Alternative Locations:,
DOI or Unique Handle:10.1080/02687030903438524
Additional Information:Access to the full text is subject to the publisher's access restrictions.