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Content analysis of the fairy tale Cinderella - A longitudinal single-case study of narrative production: “From rags to riches”

Stark, Jaqueline Ann
Content analysis of the fairy tale Cinderella - A longitudinal single-case study of narrative production: “From rags to riches” . Aphasiology, 24(6-8), June, 2010, pages 709-724.


Background: With regard to spontaneously produced speech and the oral production of a narrative, the content of the message(s) being conveyed by a person with Broca's aphasia with severe agrammatic sentence production must often be inferred from the telegraphic speech output. The clinician's inferences must often be revised to capture the intended meaning of a single utterance or sequence of utterances. When performing a formal analysis of such telegraphic utterances, researchers strive to provide an adequate reconstruction that approximates the speaker's intended meanings.

Aims: In this single-case study, multiple oral (re)tellings of the fairy tale Cinderella are analysed in terms of the content of the produced narratives. The aim of this study is to trace and determine how the content of a person with aphasia's production of this fairy tale changes over time, and to tease apart the contribution of various linguistic domains in the production of a narrative.

Methods & Procedures: Participant TH suffered a massive left hemisphere CVA at the age of 40 and was initially diagnosed as globally aphasic. By 36 months post onset his language impairment had evolved into Broca's aphasia characterised by agrammatic sentence production (oral and written language), mild apraxia of speech, and asyntactic auditory comprehension. He performed the task of orally (re)telling the fairy tale Cinderella eleven times over a 4frac12-year period, beginning 36 months post onset and extending to 93 months post onset of aphasia. His narratives were video- and audio-taped and the recordings were transcribed. The fairy tale Cinderella was interpreted in terms of its propositional content and its superstructure: orientation, development (episode 1, 2a, 2b, 3), complication ( = 4), solution (episode 5), coda, and evaluation of the narrative (Labov, 2000; Labov & Waletzky, 1967). The content of TH's narratives was evaluated independently by three clinicians.

Outcomes & Results: A marked increase in the number of explicitly produced content units was observed across test times. Longitudinally, TH produced more informative narratives as evaluated in terms of propositional content units, elaborations, and evaluations. These changes in performance are attributed to TH's improved lexical retrieval for both nouns and verbs, and also to his improved syntactic skills.

Conclusions: Qualitative and quantitative changes in producing the Cinderella narrative mirror TH's improved language processing, in particular his verb retrieval and oral sentence production skills. Longitudinally, analysis of the content of narratives provides insight into the evolution of text production with reference to the influence of several linguistic domains on narrative production. In summary, content analysis of orally produced narratives provides a departure point for examining the complex roles of various linguistic domains in the process of transforming ideas into articulated sentences and narratives.

EPrint Type:Journal (Paginated)
ID Code:1837
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:10.1080/02687030903524729
Additional Information:Access to the full text is subject to the publisher's access restrictions.