Expressing opinions and feelings in a conversational setting

Document Type

Journal Article


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Psychology and Social Science / Social Justice Research Centre




Armstrong, E. M., Mortensen, L., Ciccone, N. A., & Godecke, E. (2012). Expressing opinions and feelings in a conversational setting. Seminars in Speech and Language, 33(1), 16-26. Available here


This article examines the ways in which individuals with aphasia communicate opinions and feelings using evaluative language during conversation in an aphasia group. Evaluative language refers to semantic resources conveying emotions, judgments, and valuations and includes emotive adjectives, nouns, verbs, and adverbs as well as metaphor. Although individuals with aphasia are known to be able to use evaluative language in a monologic context, little is known about how people with aphasia use evaluative language in conversation, or about the role of co-construction in such usage. The data for this study were collected during a conversation group consisting of five participants with aphasia and a facilitator. The analysis used is based on Appraisal theory (Martin and White 2005) and examined the evaluation categories of Affect, Appreciation, Judgment, and Graduation. Regardless of severity, all aphasic speakers contributed an equal amount of evaluation to the interaction and demonstrated some usage of all types of evaluation. However, those with more severe aphasia relied heavily on their conversational partners to scaffold their opinions and used a range of resources including lexical items, such as exactly, and repetition (e.g., "yeah yeah yeaho") to agree emphatically with opinions expressed. Lexical variety was notably less in the aphasic speakers than the non-brain-damaged group facilitator. The article discusses the patterns of skills observed together with the clinical implications for working with people with aphasia on emotional meanings.