Abstract for Agrammatism, Adaptation Theory, and Conversation Analysis: On the Role of so-called Telegraphic Style in Talk-in-Interaction

Claus Heeschen and Emanuel A. Schegloff: 
"Agrammatism, Adaptation Theory, 
Conversation Analysis: On the Role of 
so-called Telegraphic Style in Talk-in-
Interaction," Aphasiology, 13, 1999, 

In this paper, a specific aphasiological  
problem is approached by means of 
conversation analysis: the varying  
manifestations of agrammatism in the 
speech of one patient. According to the  
adaptation theory by Kolk and Heeschen, 
(most) agrammatics have the  option to speak 
either in complete sentences (with the usual 
problems familiar  to any aphasiologist) or to 
resort to systematically simplified 
expressions ('telegraphic style'). Two 
episodes from a conversation between an 
agrammatic  patient and her best friend are
analysed - one episode in which the patient  
uses hardly any 'telegrams' and one in which 
telegraphic expressions figure  more centrally. 
The core questions are: What is achieved by 
resorting to  telegraphic style in talk-in-
interaction? and; How far does the healthy co-
participant  organize her conduct contingent
on the varying practices in the patient's  
speech? A first answer suggests that 
telegraphic style is a resource for mobilizing  
the co-participant to become more engaged 
and to provide more help and is  deployed 
specifically to exploit this feature. In the 
analytic explication of the episodes, turn by 
turn, turn component by turn component is 
addressed in some  detail, thereby not 
disregarding any observation as irrelevant a 
priori. It is this  procedure that is central to the
potential contribution of CA to aphasiology. In  
the course of the explication further questions 
emerge: Is the notion of  'telegram' 
meaningful within an interaction-oriented 
approach? Is there  variation in the patient's 
speech not only across occasions, but also 
across co-participants and across settings? 
The process of analysis of the episodes is 
informed by two domains of data: prior 
aphasiological knowledge and the experience  
and expertise of conversation analysts with 
talk and conduct in interaction among 
language-unimpaired speakers. Combining 
the two lines of  research is not  
straightforward: it might lead to complex 
multivalent characterizations of some 
occurrences in the data, specifically those 
related to the question of  how far the co-
participant treats the patient as 'impaired' and 
how far she avoids the exposure of linguistic
deficiencies in the patient.

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