Rita M. Vis

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Communication Sciences & Disorders


This study was designed to investigate the phoneme selection patterns in the spontaneous speech of Broca's and Wernicke's aphasics. The frequency distributions of phonemes for the aphasic subjects was compared to the normal distribution curve of English consonantal phonemes. Differences in the frequency of occurrence of phonemes subsequent to neurological impairment may be linked to the nature of the impairment. In addition, this study described and compared the occurrence of phonological processes in the single word responses of the subject groups. The frequency of phonemes and the occurrence of phonological processes were then analyzed jointly for possible trends.

Analysis of the spontaneous language samples of the aphasic subjects revealed that the frequency of occurrence of phonemes was not significantly different than the normal distribution, nor was it different between the subject groups. This finding held true with regards to the values of the phoneme frequencies and the ranking within the phoneme distributions. The Assessment of Phonological Processes-Revised (Hodson, 1986) was used to analyze the single word responses to confrontation tasks. It was found that both the Broca's and Wernicke's aphasics exhibited phonological processes in their speech, but the Broca's aphasics produced significantly more errors.

The results of this study reveal that, although aphasics exhibit phonological processes in their speech, these errors are not reflected in a change in the frequency of occurrence of phonemes. Interpretation of this finding may indicate that the phonological processes demonstrated in the speech of aphasics are not the result of a dysfunction of the rule-based structure of the linguistic system, but rather of the processing links within this system. As well, the nature of the phonological processes exhibited may serve to differentiate the nature of the two aphasic disorders; Broca's aphasia as a motor programming deficit, and Wernicke's aphasia as a deficiency in selection and retrieval.

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