LINGUIST List 15.577

Fri Feb 13 2004

Diss: Neuroling: Tyrone: 'An Investigation...'

Editor for this issue: Takako Matsui <>


  1. tyrone, Language and Communication Science

Message 1: Language and Communication Science

Date: Mon, 9 Feb 2004 17:15:47 -0500 (EST)
From: tyrone <>
Subject: Language and Communication Science

Institution: City University London
Program: Language and Communication Science
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2004

Author: Martha E Tyrone

Dissertation Title: An Investigation of Sign Dysarthria
Linguistic Field: Neurolinguistics 

Subject Language: British Sign Language (code: BHO)
Dissertation Director 1: Bencie Woll
Dissertation Abstract: 

This study explores the nature of sign production in individuals with
neurogenic movement disorders. The research goals are to broadly
define the phenomenon of dysarthria in signed language; to determine
whether anything other than the set of articulators involved
differentiates it from dysarthria in spoken language; and to delineate
the differences between sign dysarthria and apraxia, and between sign
dysarthria and disruption of simple limb movements. In the same way
that hearing people may exhibit speech dysarthria in the absence of
oral apraxia, deaf signers may, in some cases, exhibit sign dysarthria
in the absence of higher level ideomotor impairments. Conversely, just
as many movement disorders are more apparent in speech than in simple
limb movements, sign dysarthria may also arise in the absence of
severe impairment of simple movements, such as reaching or
pointing. An ancillary question that this research addresses is the
establishment of articulatory measures of sign dysarthria, and of
normal signing.
Findings from this study indicate that dysarthria, as distinct from
apraxia, aphasia, and loss of simple movement, does manifest itself in
sign language, which suggests that speech motor control research
should eschew models of dysarthria framed around specific
articulators, in favour of those that emphasize patterns of
movement. However, just as dysarthria is not articulator-specific, it
is also not fundamentally linguistic in nature. The reason that
dysarthria can occur in either a vocal or a manual language modality
is because both use very rapid, complex, co-ordinated movements. The
movement speed and complexity facilitate the rapid information
transfer that is necessary for any linguistic system, but that does
not make disruptions to it inherently linguistic. One would predict
that subjects with dysarthria would also be impaired at any task with
similar motor demands, but since few normal activities require such a
high level of movement precision, deficits manifest themselves
primarily in speech or sign.
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