Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Linguistics

First Advisor

Bhuvana Narasimhan

Second Advisor

Gail Ramsberger

Third Advisor

David Rood

Fourth Advisor

Pui-Fong Kan

Abstract

The current study investigated whether the pragmatic component of the language of individuals with aphasia is intact as manifested by a systematic encoding of information status in terms of 'oldness'/'newness' of information. An experimental study was conducted to find out how individuals with aphasia encode 'newness' and 'oldness' of information in conjunct noun phrases when describing pictures of objects in isolation or in contexts involving a communicative partner. The results suggest that overall, people with aphasia, like non-aphasics, are sensitive to the status of information, in that they have an ordering preference to mention `old' information first, before they introduce 'new' information. Though statistically non-significant due to the limited data and a small pool of participants, the results also suggest that aphasic participants foreground `new' information and deemphasize 'old' information in a pragmatically-motivated condition. The findings also reveal an order effect as well as individual differences in ordering preferences.

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