Referential Ambiguity in the Narrative Productions of African American Adults Purpose The purpose of this study was to examine the production of referential ambiguities in two contrasting narrative conditions among age-defined groups of healthy African American women. Method Twenty middle-aged adults (M = 51 years) and 20 older adults (M = 72 years) produced a complex story retelling ... Supplement Article
Supplement Article  |   November 01, 2015
Referential Ambiguity in the Narrative Productions of African American Adults
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Angela Bradford Wainwright
    University of the District of Columbia
  • Michael P. Cannito
    University of Memphis
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Angela Bradford Wainwright: abradford@udc.edu
  • Editor: Anastasia Raymer
    Editor: Anastasia Raymer×
  • Associate Editor: Jessica Richardson
    Associate Editor: Jessica Richardson×
Article Information
Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Older Adults & Aging / Supplement: Select Papers From the 44th Clinical Aphasiology Conference
Supplement Article   |   November 01, 2015
Referential Ambiguity in the Narrative Productions of African American Adults
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, November 2015, Vol. 24, S990-S1000. doi:10.1044/2015_AJSLP-14-0146
History: Received September 15, 2014 , Revised May 1, 2015 , Accepted July 15, 2015
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, November 2015, Vol. 24, S990-S1000. doi:10.1044/2015_AJSLP-14-0146
History: Received September 15, 2014; Revised May 1, 2015; Accepted July 15, 2015

Purpose The purpose of this study was to examine the production of referential ambiguities in two contrasting narrative conditions among age-defined groups of healthy African American women.

Method Twenty middle-aged adults (M = 51 years) and 20 older adults (M = 72 years) produced a complex story retelling and a personal narrative. All narratives were transcribed orthographically, parsed into T-units, and analyzed for surface structure markings of referents and the presence of ambiguities.

Results The results demonstrated that older adults produced more ambiguities than middle-aged adults, were more compromised with task complexity, used more role or relation designations to refer to story characters while underusing proper names, and exhibited significant lexical retrieval deficits during ongoing narrative production. Middle-aged adults produced more proper names, but were also challenged by the complexity of the story-retelling task. Moreover, the results showed that older adults produced more African American English variants than middle-aged adults.

Conclusion This investigation revealed a pattern of age-related ambiguities during narrative production. The results demonstrated that lexical retrieval from long-term semantic memory was an important predictor of ambiguity, whereas African American English contributed negligibly. These results show that referential ambiguities may be a robust characteristic of cognitive–linguistic changes that occur with typical aging.

Acknowledgment
This research was funded by the Center for Research Initiatives and Strategies for the Communicatively Impaired (CRISCI) grant from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. The grant was awarded to the University of Memphis, School of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology.
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