Influence of Examiner Dialect on a Bidialectal Speaker with Aphasia



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This study investigated whether there was an impact of examiner’s dialect on the quantity and quality of narrative discourse in a bidialectal African American with mild aphasia. We hypothesized that there may be a cognitive cost when responding to the examiner by code switching from African American English (AAE) to General American English (GAE) for bidialectal people with aphasia. We elicited story retell and personal narratives on two separate occasions under two conditions: one where the examiner spoke exclusively using GAE and the other where the examiner spoke exclusively in AAE. These narratives were analyzed for differences in the density of nonmainstream forms of AAE, amount of verbal output, local cohesion errors, and information content. There was a higher density of nonmainstream forms of AAE overall in the personal narrative task in both conditions as opposed to the story retell task. In addition to the density of nonmainstream forms of AAE, there was also a difference in the variety and the type of nonmainstream forms of AAE produced. While there were no substantial differences between the two conditions with respect to the amount of information conveyed, there were observable differences in the quality of the narratives, specifically an increase in local cohesion errors in the GAE condition. The results of this study suggest it may be important to consider the impact of task demands and linguistic context on narrative discourse in bidialectal people with aphasia.



African American English, Aphasia