The effects of enactment on communicative competence in aphasic casual conversation: a functional linguistic perspective
Background: Previous research has shown that speakers with aphasia rely on enactment more often than non-brain-damaged language users. Several studies have been conducted to explain this observed increase, demonstrating that spoken language containing enactment is easier to produce and is more engaging to the conversation partner. This paper describes the effects of the occurrence of enactment in casual conversation involving individuals with aphasia on its level of conversational assertiveness. Aims: To evaluate whether and to what extent the occurrence of enactment in speech of individuals with aphasia contributes to its conversational assertiveness. Methods & Procedures: Conversations between a speaker with aphasia and his wife (drawn from AphasiaBank) were analysed in several steps. First, the transcripts were divided into moves, and all moves were coded according to the systemic functional linguistics (SFL) framework. Next, all moves were labelled in terms of their level of conversational assertiveness, as defined in the previous literature. Finally, all enactments were identified and their level of conversational assertiveness was compared with that of non-enactments. Outcomes & Results: Throughout their conversations, the non-brain-damaged speaker was more assertive than the speaker with aphasia. However, the speaker with aphasia produced more enactments than the non-brain-damaged speaker. The moves of the speaker with aphasia containing enactment were more assertive than those without enactment. Conclusions & Implications: The use of enactment in the conversations under study positively affected the level of conversational assertiveness of the speaker with aphasia, a competence that is important for speakers with aphasia because it contributes to their floor time, chances to be heard seriously and degree of control over the conversation topic.