Collaborative referencing between individuals with aphasia and routine communication partners

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


H. H. Clark (1992) argues that successful referencing depends on speakers and listeners working together to establish shared perspectives on target objects. In his collaborative referencing model, he identifies 3 phases in the referencing process: initiation, refashioning, and acceptance. For referencing tasks, successful collaboration can be seen in the streamlining of referencing expressions and in the decrease of overt collaborative effort across trials. Although previous studies have shown that speakers with aphasia can be successful on referencing tasks, they have not examined how that success is achieved through the collaborative work of the partners. Using a referencing task adapted from H. H. Clark and D. Wilkes-Gibbs (1986), this study examined how 4 adults with moderate-to-severe aphasia collaborated with routine communication partners (spouses or children). Overall, these pairs completed the referencing task trials with 96% accuracy and displayed referencing processes that generally conformed to Clark's collaborative referencing model. Close analysis of the discourse of these interactions revealed patterns of collaboration that went beyond Clark's model - the pairs used diverse verbal and nonverbal resources, actively negotiated the task across trials, and layered their own personal goals and perspectives onto these interactions. This study highlights the plasticity of functional communication (the diversity of ways the pairs worked together to complete the same task) and points to the importance of understanding processes of tacit learning that take place in social interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)831-848
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2003


  • Adults
  • Aphasia
  • Discourse analysis
  • Functional communication assessment
  • Qualitative research analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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