LINGUIST List 15.1231

Sat Apr 17 2004

Review: Clinical Linguistics: Kent (2004)

Editor for this issue: Naomi Ogasawara <>

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  1. Steven B. Chin, The MIT Encyclopedia of Communication Disorders

Message 1: The MIT Encyclopedia of Communication Disorders

Date: Fri, 16 Apr 2004 23:35:20 -0400 (EDT)
From: Steven B. Chin <>
Subject: The MIT Encyclopedia of Communication Disorders

EDITOR: Kent, Raymond D.
TITLE: The MIT Encyclopedia of Communication Disorders
YEAR: 2004
Announced at

Steven B. Chin, Indiana University

If, as Chomsky (1965) proposes, ''linguistic theory is concerned
primarily with an ideal speaker-listener, in a completely homogeneous
speech community...'' (p. 3), then Raymond D. Kent's ''The MIT
Encyclopedia of Communication Disorders'' (hereinafter ''the
Encyclopedia'') addresses the status of the non-ideal speaker-listener
and a heterogeneous speech community.

The editor, Raymond D. Kent, is professor of communicative disorders
at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Professor Kent specializes
in speech production and the acoustics of speech, particularly in the
area of speech intelligibility and speech quality affected by
neurogenic disorders in children and adults. He is the author of
Application of Research to Assessment and Therapy (Thieme-Stratton,
1985); Functional Anatomy of Speech, Language, and Hearing (Allyn and
Bacon, 1990); The Acoustic Analysis of Speech (Singular Publishing
Group, 1992); The Speech Sciences (Singular, 1997); and Clinical
Phonetics (Allyn and Bacon, 2003); as well as over 100 journal
articles and chapters. His knowledge on a wide range of topics is
encyclopedic, making him a fitting editor for this volume.

This 618-page volume contains 184 articles organized into four broad
categories: voice, speech, language, and hearing. These loci of human
spoken communication and disorders of spoken communication are
standard and to an extent institutionalized, at least in the United
States. First, they are the broad specialties generally reflected in
faculties of academic departments in colleges and universities that
deal with communication disorders. In name, at least, some of these
concentrate on disorders (e.g., Department of Speech Pathology and
Audiology, University of Minnesota), some on general scientific
aspects (Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, Indiana
University), and some on both (e.g., Department of
Speech-Language-Hearing: Sciences and Disorders, University of
Kansas). Second, as Kent points out, the Journal of Speech, Language,
and Hearing Research (JSLHR), an official organ of the American
Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), has the three main
editorial categories (including separate associate editors) of speech,
language, and hearing. Third, the National Institute on Deafness and
Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD, a U.S. federal entity, has three
main research program areas: (1) Hearing and Balance; (2) Voice,
Speech, and Language; and (3) Smell and Taste. Research pertaining to
human communication are subsumed in the first and second areas.

Note that in the foregoing, ''communication'' is by-and- large limited
to spoken communication (and, to some extent, manual or signed) by
humans. Written communication and reading disorders are generally not
addressed in academic departments such as those just mentioned, in
journals such as JSLHR, or in recent strategic plans for research
emanating from the NIDCD. This concentration on spoken communication
and disorders of spoken communication (with some exceptions, for
example, ''Alexia'')is also evident in the content and organization of
the Encyclopedia.

Each of the 184 articles (95 on Voice, 127 on Speech, 179 on Language,
and 154 on Hearing) is written by an expert in the relevant field, and
each article is signed. Most authors are affiliated with academic
institutions in North America, although a number of them are
affiliated with various hospitals in the United States, including a
fair number of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals. Specialists in
linguistics, or at least phonetics, may be familiar with authors such
as Louis Braida (''Frequency compression'') and Kenneth Stevens
(''Voice acoustics''), but I suspect that many, if not most, of the
authors of this volume will be unfamiliar to linguists and
phoneticians. This is a real shame, because disorders of communication
raise many theoretically interesting questions regarding the structure
of language, particularly with respect to the limits on structural
variation in ''ideal'' speaker- listeners and ''completely
homogeneous'' speech communities.

The editor indicates in the introduction that two further principles
guided the content and structure of the Encyclopedia. First, each of
the four categories of Voice, Speech, Language, and Hearing were
balanced for articles dealing with Basic Science, Disorders (nature
and assessment), and Clinical Management (intervention
issues). Obviously, this is necessitated by the nature of the field of
communication disorders, unlike a field like theoretical linguistics,
which admits to not much more than ''Basic Science.'' This guiding
typology is not explicit in the structure or content of each section.
More explicit, however, is the separation of disorders in adults from
disorders in children.

Articles in the Encyclopedia are of relatively uniform text length and
include black-and-white or gray-scale graphic materials
(illustrations, graphs, spectrograms, etc.). For some reason, the lack
of color illustrations always makes a work seem to me more scientific,
which of course this one is. Each article is followed by a list of
references cited in the article as well as, in most cases, a list of
further readings. The reference lists of cited works contain for the
most part primary literature appearing in journal articles, whereas
the lists of further readings contain mostly secondary material,
including books and book chapters.

Within each of the sections Voice, Speech, Language, and Hearing, the
articles are arranged alphabetically by their titles. The Encyclopedia
contains a table of contents, listing, again in alphabetical order,
the articles in each section. The table of contents really is a sine
qua non for determining whether the Encyclopedia contains an article
on a topic of interest. The reason for this is that the titles of the
articles reflect what seems to be the very democratic approach of
letting authors title their own articles. There are very
straightforward titles, such as ''Stuttering,'' ''Discourse,'' and
''Presbyacusis.'' There are also some not-so-straightforward titles
like ''Speech disorders secondary to hearing impairment acquired in
adulthood'' and ''Phonological awareness intervention for children
with expressive phonological impairments.'' These are, in fact, the
titles of perfectly fine articles, but titles such as these make it
difficult to follow specific lines of inquiry on the basis of the
titles alone.

For example, there are several articles in the Language section
dealing with various aspects of aphasia. Some of these articles have
titles that begin with the word ''aphasia,'' such as ''Aphasia: The
classical syndromes'' and ''Aphasia, Wernicke's.'' However, there are
also articles dealing with aphasia that are not as easy to find, such
as ''Phonological analysis of language disorders in aphasia'' and
''Phonology and adult aphasia.'' The situation is due in large part,
of course, to the tripartite set of concerns, quite legitimate
concerns, of basic science, diagnosis, and clinical management. It is
also helped very much by the inclusion of a name index and a
comprehensive subject index. If one is looking for everything in the
volume about aphasia, for example, it would probably be better to look
in the index rather than in the table of contents.

Given the participation of the editor and so many other experts on
this project, it would have been nice to have an overview article for
each of the sections on voice, speech, language, and hearing,
outlining for each area its delimiting factors and major concerns. I
mention this because, given my current line of research, I was
interested to see what the Encyclopedia had to say about ''deafness.''
There was a main index heading for ''deafness'' that contained several
subheadings, for example, ''in children, assessment and intervention
for,'' ''language acquisition with for English,'' ''Scheibe,'' and so
forth. But there was nothing like ''defined'' or ''characteristics
of.'' I was reminded of the time in college when I found my neighbor,
a geology major one month away from graduation, going frantically
through all of his books and four years of class notes looking for, he
told me, a good definition for the word ''rock.''

I do not want the last two paragraphs to give any impression other
than that I found this a great work of reference and a great work of
science. It is both comprehensive and authoritative, and it will serve
professionals in the field, as well as those in closely related
fields, admirably.


Chomsky, Noam. (1965). Aspects of the theory of syntax. Cambridge MA:
MIT Press.

Kent, Raymond D. (1985). Application of research to assessment and
therapy. New York: Thieme-Stratton.

Kent, Raymond D. (1997). The speech sciences. San Diego CA: Singular

Kent, Raymond D., and Charles Read. (1992). The acoustic analysis of
speech. San Diego CA: Singular Publishing.

Perkins, William H., and Raymond D. Kent. (1990). Functional anatomy
of speech, language, and hearing. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Shriberg, Lawrence D., and Raymond D. Kent. (2003). Clinical
phonetics. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.


Steven B. Chin is assistant scientist in otolaryngology- head and neck
surgery in the Indiana University School of Medicine. His research
examines atypical speech and phonological development, and his current
projects deal with phonological development in children who use
cochlear implants.
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