Expressing opinions and feelings in aphasia: linguistic options

Elizabeth Armstrong

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    26 Citations (Scopus)


    Background : To date, most studies of verb usage in aphasia have focused on the use of relatively concrete action verbs, related to how a speaker conveys events and happenings. Few have focused on the speaker's ability to provide an opinion on these events or personal reactions to them, important skills in conveying personal identity in everyday contexts. Aims : This study aims to examine the ability of aphasic speakers to express opinions, feelings, and attitudes through the use of particular verbs that are related to mental processes and to personal evaluation. In comparing their performance with non-brain-damaged speakers, the effects of aphasia on these particular linguistic functions will be investigated. Methods & Procedures : Five individuals with aphasia and five non-brain-damaged speakers were matched for age, gender, and years of education. Their discourse across three topics was analysed using Halliday's (1994) framework of verb types—in particular focusing on mental and relational verbs. Outcomes & Results : Results demonstrated less ability overall by aphasic speakers to express opinions, feelings, and attitudes using the particular verb types studied. In addition, the aphasic speakers tended to have less lexical diversity and used more general and high-frequency mental verbs compared to their non-brain-damaged counterparts. Conclusions : The study suggests that some aphasic speakers do have difficulty with mental and relational verbs used by non-brain-damaged speakers to express personal opinions and attitudes. This demonstrates that the lexical/grammatical problems encountered by aphasic speakers go beyond the relatively concrete action verbs previously studied, and in so doing, have a significant impact on the individual's ability to express their identity. Focusing on different types of verbs may be useful in treatment in order to facilitate the broader range of meanings that people with aphasia need in everyday situations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)285-295
    Number of pages11
    Issue number3-5
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


    • aphasia
    • grammar -- comparative and general -- verb
    • attitude (psychology)
    • language disorders
    • emotions
    • patients


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