Friday, 12 April 2013

Clinical Linguistics: a Primer

Next month sees the publication of Louise Cummings' latest article on the use of clinical linguistics in understanding language and communication disorders.

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Clinical linguistics is an important and growing area of language study. Yet, this linguistic discipline has been relatively overlooked in comparison with mainstream branches of linguistics such as syntax and semantics. This paper argues for a greater integration of clinical linguistics within linguistics in general. This integration is warranted, it is argued, on account of the knowledge and methods that clinical linguists share with academics in other areas of linguistics. The paper sets out by discussing a narrow and a broad definition of clinical linguistics before examining key stages in the human communication cycle. This cycle represents the cognitive and linguistic processes involved in the expression and interpretation of utterances. Language and communication disorders are characterized in terms of specific points of breakdown in this cycle. The contribution of each branch of linguistic study – phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics and discourse – to an analysis of language disorders is considered. Data from a range of clinical subjects, both children and adults, is used to illustrate the linguistic features of these disorders. The paper concludes with a summary of the main points of the discussion and a preview of a companion article to be published in the International Journal of Language Studies

Louise Cummings, Clinical Linguistics: a Primer, International Journal of Language Studies, 7(2), April 2013, p. 1-30.

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