Assessment and treatment of aphasia in Aboriginal Australians: Linguistic considerations and broader implications for cross-cultural practice
Speech Pathology Australia
School of Medical and Health Sciences
This paper discusses the notion of language difference related to aphasia assessments and treatment in the context of differences between Standard Australian English and Aboriginal English. While cross-cultural and cross-linguistic differences and their effects on clinical approaches have been an important focus of discussion in the field of aphasiology due to the increasing diversity of clinical populations, literature related to language variation within the one language is sparse. This paper discusses Aboriginal English, a dialect of English that differs from Standard Australian English, in relation to conceptual-cultural frameworks, and social-pragmatic patterns of language use in Aboriginal Australians, along with their potential impact on clinical experience. Aspects such as grammatical and lexical features of Aboriginal English, event and story schemas, and pragmatic features serve to highlight differences between Aboriginal English and Standard Australian English. Reference to the variety of Aboriginal languages will also be made, along with discussion of interpreting issues. Variations described in the paper are highlighted in terms of their significance for potential misdiagnosis of pathological patterns of language use and the careful consideration required to accurately assess communicative competence in non-dominant language dialects.