Metaphor as an interactional discourse resource in aphasia

<p>Hengst, J.A., Duff, M.C., Kurczek, J., & Prior, P. (2011, November). Metaphor as an interactional discourse resource for individuals with Aphasia and their communication partners. <i>Paper presentation at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)</i>, San Diego, CA.</p><p>Research and clinical literature document that individuals with aphasia often display good understanding of metaphor and figurative language but difficulty producing or explaining metaphorical expressions (e.g., Winner & Gardner, 1977). For example, when subjects were asked to match spoken metaphors with one of four pictures (metaphor, literal, noun, adjective), Winner and Gardner (1977) found that control subjects selected the metaphor picture 73% of the time, more often than subjects with aphasia (anterior LH lesions, 67%; posterior LH lesions, 46%) or other cognitive deficits (mild dementia, 45%; RH lesions, 40%). However, subjects with aphasia had significantly more difficulty using language to explain the metaphor than did RHD subjects. In an interview study examining how patients, family members and SLPs used metaphor to characterize rehabilitation, Ferguson et al. (2010) found that participants with mild aphasia all used metaphors, but fewer novel metaphors than their family members and SLPs. The research to date is limited to analyzing understanding of metaphoric expressions either under controlled tasks, or in the case of Ferguson et al., as representations that index attitudes.</p> <p>In our research examining situated discourse practices of individuals with brain damage, we have analyzed key interactional discourse resources (IDRs), including reported speech (Hengst, et al, 2005), verbal play (Hengst, 2006), and conversational narratives (Hengst, 2010). Broadly, IDRs are recognizable discourse patterns that interlocutors use to contextualize or framing talk and action. Grounded in sociocultural theories of communication, IDRs involve multimodal (verbal and nonverbal) resources, are emergent and creative, and foreground the interactive management of multiple contextual frames. By shifting focus from linguistic resources alone, the study of IDRs has allowed us to systematically document how individuals with aphasia and their communication partners are often able to successfully and creatively contextualize their talk to support communicative efforts. </p> In recent decades, cognitive scientists (e.g. Lakoff and Johnson, 1980) and semioticians (e.g., Jakobson, 1960) have challenged rhetorical theory, arguing that a basic set of figurative operations structures thinking and communication. For example, Lakoff (1987) argues that cognitive categorizations routinely depart from a literal mirroring of the world through comparative processes of metaphor (identity relations), metonymy (association or contiguity), and imagery (iconic resemblance). Although these theories posit different basic operations, they agree on the fundamental power and pervasiveness of such figurative comparisons, and have led us to consider them as likely candidates for IDRs. Because terminologies for these figures remain in some flux, we hence forth follow Lakoff in using <i>metaphor</i> or <i>metaphorical expression</i> as a shorthand for any such operations.