Multilingualism in Stroke Patients: A Personal Account

Jürg R. Schwyter

Abstract


Multilingualism is a highly complex phenomenon and even more so in the recovery pattern of stroke patients. This papers addresses the following factors with respect to multilingual stroke patients: the age of acquisition of languages, the place of lesion, the language proficiency at the time of the stroke and its recovery during post-stroke training, the speaker’s emotional involvement with the languages and the relative distance between languages. The age of acquisition of languages appears to be of lower importance, and multilingual language recovery of patients with Broca’s area stroke is more complex than that of bilingual patients. Importantly, the languages used prior to the lesion, and the language used during language therapy are highly relevant. Closely linked is the emotional involvement with the various languages in a multilingual person; the deeper the integrative motivation, the more successful the recovery. From a linguistic point of view, the relative distance between languages appears to be of lower importance despite some indications put forward by neurolinguists and clinicians. Quantifiable and measurable parameters, such as the age of acquisition and the place of lesion, have been studied much more frequently than comparatively imprecise ones on emotional involvement and language proficiency/competence at the time of a stroke. But it is exactly the latter parameters that most progress can and should be made on in the future.


Full Text: PDF DOI: 10.5539/ijel.v3n3p15

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International Journal of English Linguistics   ISSN 1923-869X (Print)   ISSN 1923-8703 (Online)

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