The impact of co-occurring communicative impairments on the understandability of atypical speakers’ talk

  • Ray Wilkinson The University of Sheffield


Contributing to conversation analytic research into ‘atypical interaction’ (i.e. naturally-occurring interactions involving one or more participants with a communication disorder), this paper focuses on talk by individuals who present with both aphasic (language) impairments and other communicative impairments (motor, motor programming or cognitive in nature). It shows how, in three such cases, the co-occurring impairments may each contribute to turns at talk by the atypical speaker which are particularly problematic in terms of their understandability. In each case these trouble source turns result in (1) the production of other-initiations of repair by the recipient which are ‘off track’, and (2) repair sequences which are notably prolonged. This type of investigation fills a gap in existing atypical interaction research where most analysis has focused on the impact of individual communicative impairments on talk-in-interaction.