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In Defense of Agrammatism, Article Critique Example

Pages: 5

Words: 1400

Article Critique

All the articles reviewed and discussed in this paper observe the common topic of “agrammatism” and its role in researching individual cases of aphasia. Aggrammatism is considered to be a variety of expressive aphasia that implies the inability to speak in a grammatically right manner.

David Caplan (Montreal Neurological Institute), the author of “In defense of agrammatism” (1986), argues in his article that agrammatism can be approached in such a way that may cause it being a suitable type for aphasia examination, and that will eventually bring up a certain amount of remarkably exciting issues for study with regard to this particular type. In his research the author refers to Badecker’s and Caramazza’s study that “levied an attack upon the category of agrammatism as a coherent aphasic deficit”. He states that even though the mentioned authors may be right in some of their assumptions, that many accessible diagnostic categories of aphasiology are excessively wide and inadequately described in particular, their ideas exaggerate the essence of the phenomena, making too much of the case against more intently defined categories such as agrammatism.

Referring to Shallice’s method of determining aphasic deficits named the “method of multiple dissociations”, Caplan proposes to put the similar techniques to use with the symptom of agrammatism, and to resolve such questions brought up as “whether the primary dissociations are adequate to delineate a syndrome” and “whether the secondary variation negates the existence of this putative broad syndrome”.

Thoroughly researching Bedecker’s and Caramazza’s arguments about the essence of agrammatism, the author refuses to accept their rationales and conclusions. Caplan disproves their claims that the symptoms of agrammatism cannot be equally portrayed in each patient in terms of a single linguistic or psycholinguistic deficit owing to their diverse nature, that they are mechanistically connected to disorders impacting various vocabulary elements, and that they are identical to the paragrammatic phenomena. He claims that according to the authors’ theories they are supposed to support at least one of the following statement: first of all, there has to be some innovative linguistic and psycholinguistic theory which exposes the information concerning agrammatism and related conditions; secondly, the phenomena demonstrated by the authors are possible due to non-linguistic disorders that impact language functions; and finally, the atypical features they illustrate are most probably due to a diversity of principal deficits. Caplan assumes that the one Bedecker and Caramazza endorse is the last one. Yet he also argues that the hypothesis is far from being properly formulated and is not really proved to be true, while the authors do not make any particular advancement of the hypothesis, as well as they fail to attempt to give good reasons for its justification and to offer some clarification of agrammatism at all.

Eventually, Caplan proposes that the most part of their study can be understood and validated as far as characterization of agrammatism is made on a formal linguistic basis and fastens this formal examination to other factors of linguistic theory and to psycholinguistic models of sentence production and states that “Badecker and Caramazza have thrown the baby out with the bathwater”.

“On considerations of method and theory governing the use of clinical categories in neurolinguistics and cognitive neuropsychology: The case against agrammatism” (1985) by William Badecker and Alfonso Caramazza (The Johns Hopkins University) examines the assumption proposing that while conducting research on the pervasive use of clinical categories of aphasia in neurolinguistic and cognitive neuropsychological the groups of patients embody normal language-processing system disturbances along hypothetically important lines. The category and position of the ‘agrammatism’ is taken in particular consideration by the authors. They propose that there are certain undeniably forceful causes for inquire about “coherence of agrammatism as a psychological entity”. The authors argue that in order to offset these objections, reasonable decisive factors of choosing a hypothetically important group of patients should take the place of clinical intuitions on which this aphasic category is founded. They as well state that achieving this target has to be performed so that theoretically motivated distinction is made between within and across category disparity.

Bedecker and Caramazza refer to the argument that when dealing with such categories as agrammatism, such goal is hard to be reached owing to the methodological limiting. Thus the theories proposed in the present research should not take categories like agrammatism as psychological givens, since it would prevent the comprehending of the mechanisms of language processing as well as of individual aphasic deficits. Finally, “it is argued that the single case methodology for the study of aphasia can address these goals by taking patterns of performance on particular linguistic tasks as basic units of analysis, and that this approach avoids the methodological pitfalls faced by studies which take clinical categories as starting points”.

To conclude, author’s claim may be formulated as argument that agrammatism as well as other clinical categories do not permit suitable ways of analysis from patterns of impaired performance to a comprehending of the processing mechanisms motivating normal linguistic performance. They propose that categories of such a type have no useful application and should no longer be applied in the research processing. The authors close the article stating that the arguments about agrammatism they present could have been identified without any particular problems for any other of the aphasic, dysgraphic or dyslexic syndromes filling nowadays neurolinguistic debates. They maintain that no matter how troublesome the methodological processes are in terms of researching these particular categories, the high value of clarifying instructive benefits they present justify the efforts. The specific objections made by the authors are due to the disturbing theoretical and methodological outcomes of considering agrammatism syndrome an appropriate basis for neurolinguistic research, not to the specific dissatisfaction with this particular form of aphasia.

“A final brief in the case against agrammatism: The role of theory in the selection of data” (1986) is a culmination of debates between William Badecker and Alfonso Caramazza (The Johns Hopkins University) the authors of “On considerations of method and theory governing the use of clinical categories in neurolinguistics and cognitive neuropsychology: The case against agrammatism” (1985) and David Caplan (Montreal Neurological Institute), the author of “In defense of agrammatism” (1986). According to Badecker and Caramazza, the major purpose of the article is to oppose Caplan’s claims that don’t make sense as far as his goal is “radically different from what we take to be those of modern cognitive neuropsychology”.

Badecker and Caramazza maintain that categories like agrammatism can be treated as obstacles to helpful and functional analysis in neurolinguistics and cognitive neuropsychology, and confirm their position of considering those categories perfectly useless as for the research. In their article the authors list a number of considerations that explain why agrammatism and other clinical categories of aphasia prevent one from reasoning from impaired performance to an understanding of normal language processing abilities. They also clarify that these categories are helpless when attempting to understand cases of deficit. “There is no way to settle this point prior to the development of adequate models of language processing (models that are capable of accounting for the individual cases), so there is no real point to holding on to the clinical categories for this purpose either”, the authors claim. Making use of the clinical category in the analysis, considering it to be the starting point for research, will only lead to prejudging the issue. Still, there is a certain difficulty in evaluating the role these categories may serve, owing to clinical category’ being an invalid instrument for clarifying individual cases of aphasia.

All the above articles supplement and complement one another. Actually, they are presented in a form of discussion that reminds a dialogue more than a monologue. The authors make statements, pose arguments and then oppose those of another author. They all are discussing the common topic, yet each proposing different points of view and thus making it possible to look at the subject from different perspectives.  The authors propose specific backgrounds for opposite’s claims, providing support for own ideas and creating certain images that illustrate the topic. The question of agrammatism as a type of clinical category of aphasia appears to be a controversial question indeed. Yet the authors are only theorizing in the present research, they do not provide any practically applied proofs, performing no experiments and proposing no results of actual communication and cooperation with individuals suffering from the discussed type of speech impairment. It seems like the further research and discussion is to be continued.

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