Language and Pathologies

The border between variation and language deficiency is a fuzzy one. Investigating this border can deepen our understanding of pathological speech. This requires taking into account cross-linguistic variations and inter-individual variations in pathological speech. This requires also the conceptualization of pathological speech in terms of variation. Is language deficiency a variation in itself or should it be rather considered beyond variation? Is it possible to construct a scale of variation, within which pathological speech is integrated? Can we think of therapy as an adaptation to constraints?

The Axis 3 is dedicated to these issues of variation in Pathological Speech and Language.

Cross-linguistic Clinical Linguistics

We aim at contributing to the understanding of both theoretical (neurophysiological and psycholinguistic factors underlying speech and language processes) and clinical implications associated with different voice, speech and language pathologies, including dysphonia, Parkinson’s disease, dyslexia, etc. For this purpose, a comparison of symptoms across languages will help specify these implications.

For instance, can we identify the universal and language specific characteristics of pathological speech in Parkinson’s Disease (PD) patients when they speak different languages? Does dysarthria associated with PD affect patients identically in terms of speech quality, intelligibility and communication ability when we study languages such as French, Portuguese and Cantonese with distinct segmental and suprasegmental variations? To what extent are these differences related to whether these languages are tonal or non-tonal?

Continuous speech is considered as the most natural way (compared to sustained vowels) to evaluate voice or speech disorders.  However, this elocution involves many linguistic, phonetic and cultural phenomena which can disturb or mask the perception of the dysfunction itself. Our objective is to evaluate if the language of the speakers and the language of the listeners can influence the result of a perceptual evaluation. Even if the necessity of standardization in clinical context is a legitimate goal, adaptation should be considered depending of geographical specificities. Problem of cross linguistic pathological voice database can be also an important issue.

If dyslexia is so far largely analysed in the light of the grapheme-phoneme correspondence, what kind of theories do we need to account for dyslexia across languages of different transparencies to guide the development of theory driven treatment for dyslexics in a non-alphabetic script such as Chinese?

Developing an appropriate methodological design that takes into account variations across languages could facilitate the cross linguistic investigation of speech and language symptoms and their developmental and degenerative trajectories.  As an initial attempt to address these theoretical and methodological issues, we focus on studying pathological speech in Parkinsonism and its manifestations in typologically unrelated languages such as French, Portugese and Cantonese. The results will be of interest to researchers in speech sciences and neuropsychology who are working on the explanation of phenomena observed in neurodegenerative disorders, and to practioners dealing with patient rehabilitation.

Joint Training Workshop in Speech Therapy

In addition to research collaboration, the Axis members are working on a joint training workshop dedicated to the education of student Speech Therapists in the Master of Speech Therapy programme at PolyU in Hong Kong.

This training workshop consists of an intensive week of lectures and skill-based tutorials for student and in-service speech therapists co-organized by AMU, PolyU and Macau U colleagues. The first workshop, planned to be launched in March 2015, will target voice pathology. Training will cover various topics, such as evaluation, treatment approaches, after surgery rehabilitation, voice and quality of life and best practices.

Sharing of data, tools, and methodologies

To ensure parity of testing across test sites in crosslinguistic research, The Axis members will share resources such as instruments (EMA, EVA, EEG…), experimental paradigms and protocols.  .

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