Pragmatic language disorder
Lecturer: Valentina Bambini, IUSS Pavia
What does it mean that an individual has pragmatic difficulties? Very likely, that individual would have problems in matching language and the communicative context, resulting in the incapacity to deal with implicit meanings and to conduct an appropriate conversation. Considering that these aspects are fundamental in communication, people with pragmatic language disorders might have problems in communicating effectively and in social functioning. For a long time the study of language disorders concentrated on structural features such as grammar and vocabulary knowledge. But the last decades have witnessed an increasing interest towards pragmatic skills, now acknowledged as an important part of the individual’s socio-communicative competence. Most of the current literature is devoted to assess the impact of pragmatic language disorder in each specific population, and to capture its relation with other cognitive functions that might be compromised.
This course will offer an overview of current research on pragmatic language disorders. Different clinical conditions will be considered, from schizophrenia to neurological and neurodevelopmental disorders. Each condition will offer the opportunity of focus on specific core pragmatic aspects (such as figurative language, different types of inferences, and discourse coherence), combining clinical and linguistic considerations. We will also consider the implications for cognitive models of pragmatic processing, and how theoretical pragmatics can contribute to shape training programs. Students will become familiar with the main approaches and tools to assess pragmatic skills and with the pragmatic profile of the main clinical conditions exhibiting pragmatic language disorders.