Fictive interaction in aphasic conversation

Period: September 2010-September 2014

This project deals with fictive interaction (Pascual, 2002), a cognitive phenomenon that consists of the use of the conversation frame in order to model cognition, language and discourse. Fictive interaction represents an invisible channel of communication introduced by speech participants in their discourse. In grammar, fictive interaction becomes manifest in the multifunctional use of direct speech (Pascual, 2006). Attested examples of fictive interaction at the intra-sentential level are: “the attitude that says why bother?”, “the attitude of why bother?” “the why bother? attitude”. The main goal of this project is to explore the effectiveness of the phenomenon as a communicative strategy used by patients with Broca’s aphasia and patients with anomic aphasia. Furthermore, we will examine the reception of fictive interaction in aphasic as well as healthy individuals.

Critically, aphasic speakers that use direct speech are considered the best communicators (Hengst et al., 2005). The use of direct speech in aphasic conversation is traditionally viewed as the result of reduced sentential complexity (Berko-Gleason et al., 1980; Ulatowska & Olness, 2003). We consider the use of direct speech -and fictive interaction- to be an adaptive strategy (Kolk & Heeschen, 1990; Kolk,1995). Our hypothesis is that speakers with Broca’s aphasia use these structures as economic devices that allow them to reach high rhetoric effects with low cognitive efforts. We expect anomic speakers to use direct speech and fictive interaction in order to solve or disguise word finding problems. Given that anomic aphasic speakers generally don’t have grammatical problems, our hypothesis is that they also use main and embedded clauses. The use of fictive interaction as adaptation strategy in the conversation of Dutch speakers with Broca’s aphasia, Dutch speakers with anomic aphasia and healthy subjects will be studied and compared.

Summary Vidi Project


Rimke Groenewold
Prof. Dr. Roelien Bastiaanse


Part of NWO-funded project “The Conversation Frame: Linguistic Forms and Communicative Functions in Discourse", awarded to Dr. Esther Pascual


Berko-Gleason, J. et al. 1980. Narrative strategies of aphasic and normal speaking subjects. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research 30: 370-382.

Hengst, J. A. et al. 2005. Using other’s words. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research 48: 137-156.

Kolk, H. 1995. A time-based approach to agrammatic production. Brain and language 50: 282-303.

Kolk, H. & C. Heeschen. 1990. Adaptation symptoms and impairment symptoms in Broca’s aphasia. Aphasiology 4: 221-231.

Pascual, E. 2002. Imaginary Trialogues: Conceptual Blending and Fictive Interaction In Criminal Courts. Utrecht: LOT.

Pascual, E. 2006. Fictive interaction within the sentence: A communicative type of fictivity in grammar. Cognitive Linguistics 17(2): 245-267.

Ulatowska, H. K. & G. S. Olness. 2003. On the nature of direct speech in narratives of African Americans with aphasia. Brain and Language 87: 69-70.