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When Language Breaks Down


  • 28 b/w illus. 20 tables
  • Page extent: 270 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.43 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521718240)

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$45.99 (P)

Doctors, nurses, and other caregivers often know what people with Alzheimer's disease or Asperger's 'sound like' - that is they recognise patterns in people's discourse, from sounds and silences, to words, sentences and story structures. Such discourse patterns may inform their clinical judgements and affect the decisions they make. However, this knowledge is often tacit, like recognising a regional accent without knowing how to describe its features. This is the first book to present models for comprehensively describing discourse specifically in clinical contexts and to illustrate models with detailed analyses of discourse patterns associated with degenerative (Alzheimer's) and developmental (autism spectrum) disorders. The book is aimed not only at advanced students and researchers in linguistics, discourse analysis, speech pathology and clinical psychology but also at researchers, clinicians and caregivers for whom explicit knowledge of discourse patterns might be helpful.


Introduction; 1. Introduction to clinical discourse analysis; 2. Theoretical and clinical contexts; 3. Conversation analysis and intonation in English; 4. Grammar; 5. Contexts of culture, context of situation and phase; 6. Study design; 7. Differential diagnosis and monitoring; 8. Cognitive models, inferencing, and affect; 9. Modelling information across domains; Closings remarks.


“ … an important contribution to demonstrating the value of discourse analysis for clinical diagnosis and for the study of patients with neurological and affective disorders ... a welcome synthesis of traditional, neuro-imaging, and linguistic methods.” --Jay Lemke, University of Michigan

“ … provides theoretical and descriptive tools for analyzing language in clinical syndromes that are clear but solidly grounded. The emphasis is on the autistic spectrum and Alzheimer’s disease but beyond these disorders and the specific analysis, the authors provide a way of thinking about language in clinical impairments. It presents numerous worked out linguistic analysis and offers suggestions for further specific research.” --Jonathan Fine, Department of English, Bar-Ilan University

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