The paper has two major parts, one theoretical and one empirical. In the first part. Jakobson’s basic aphasia model is presented, and in the second part the. empirical observations and discoveries. Jakobson examines aphasia, a disorder of language use, which he characterizes as consisting of two more fundamental. Psychopathology and the essence of language: the interpretation of aphasia by Kurt Goldstein and Roman Jakobson. Friedrich J(1). Author information.

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Roman Jakobson and the Two Types of Aphasia. John W P Phillips. We can begin by being fairly schematic. The structural linguist Roman Jakobson made the discovery that aphasia, which describes a variety wphasia problems with verbal expression, usually caused by brain damage, tends to involve one of two types of linguistic deficiency.

A stroke victim, for instance, may have lost the full power of speech apasia is limited to certain kinds of verbal connection. The limitation tends to work in either one of two possible ways. The deficiency can be on the paradigmatic axis or the syntagmatic one. The cat sat on the mat. A dog stood on the carpet. The syntagmatic axis moves from left to right–across the sentence–so that the linguistic elements are related contiguously.

Jakovson are all present and they are ordered according to grammatical construction, in Saussurian terms, as parole. The paradigmatic axis dips downwards into the absent pool of substitutions, similarities and differences available by virtue of la langue, the linguistic system. An utterance thus encodes meaning through selection from the paradigmatic axis and combination on the Xphasia one. The two axes thus together allow addressees to understand an utterance by decoding the sentence on the combination axis with unconscious reference to the selection one.

Jakobson – Aphasia as a Linguistic Problem – justin lewis

The dog, standingand the carpet are thus excluded from the first sentence the cat cannot be a dog, you cannot both stand and sit at the same time. And any terms that can be substituted for cat pussy, feline mammal or for sat crouched, reclined are similarly excluded, because their addition would be superfluous to the sentence.

We can illustrate the situation with the following schema: So he called the deficiencies, respectively, the similarity disorder and the contiguity disorder. They cannot find words that exist as parts of the system, the dimension of the language universe that is at any given time absent from consciousness. We all have the ability to reach for more or less obscure elements of our vocabulary at any time, though we need not be conscious of these elements most of the time.

But these aphasics have severely limited access to this fund and generally need some kind of prompt before they can say anything.

Context means two things here. First there is the context of situation, the immediate environment where there may indeed be a cat sitting on a mat. They cannot start dialogues but they are able to continue or complete them after a fashion. Or they can come up with sentences that are at best the sequel of imagined previous utterances i.

Furthermore, once a picture of an object, or the word for an object, or even the object itself, is present, it is difficult for this kind of aphasic to find a similar or substitute expression a name for it.

This is because a name has to be supplied from the pool of substitutions, access to which is restricted.

So an actual cat sitting on a mat would already fulfil the selection demands of the sentence i. Words no longer have a generic paradigmatic meaning for these patients, so verbal expressions tend to be strongly contextualised. What this means is that words on the contiguous axis are more bound by a given context and are thus less transferable to other contexts.

It is one of those situations where you need something to go wrong before you really understand how it properly works. What we learn here is that the total context verbal and situationalwhich makes up the contiguous axis of the language universe, embodies something like the entire empirical field.

This is shown by the inability of these patients to add anything that would be superfluous. Related to these aspects of the substitution deficiency are two essential aspects of language, translation and metalanguageboth of which are compromised in aphasics with a similarity disorder. Bilingual or multi-lingual aphasics usually lose the ability to operate between different languages and they become monolingual.


Metalanguage means language on or about language. But the phenomena of metalinguistic usage are with us nearly all the time. The reason that Jakobson gives for this is that most linguistic operations are condensed forms of a logic that the linguist can make explicit.

A similarity disorder would restrict the speaker to forms like scribblerdepending on the context. Loss of the metalinguistic ability means that such aphasics cannot switch from a word either to any of its synonyms or to any words meaning the same thing in different languages. They would not be able to substitute for the word cat either the word feline or apyasia word chat. Finallyin the dimension of aphasa language, it should already be fairly clear that aphasics with jakobsonn similarity disorder would not be able to use metaphor easily.

A metaphor is a use of language where one term, a word or image, stands in for another; it is a kind of implicit simile. Figurative language operates on both axes. Rather the similarity disorder aphasi aphasics to metonymic operations, which are based upon contiguity rather than similarity.

A metonym is a figure that substitutes an associated element, or even a part, for the whole Jakobson provides the following example: Words that often go together knife and fork can be substituted and, because a toaster produces toast, which can be eaten, the word eat can be used instead of toaster.

The order of the words becomes chaotic and any words with purely grammatical functions reference words like he, she, it; conjunctions like and and jaokbson ; articles like a and an tend to drop out of the picture all together. These aphasics thus tend to sound infantile and can manage only very short sentences.

Metaphor and metonymy – Wikipedia

They can indicate the name of something, perhaps, with some brief descriptive words, but little else. On the level of word construction aphasics need to understand the word before they can utter it. French speakers would not normally have a problem with these constructions. Because they are phonetically possible like the English nonsense words kulb and bluk a normal speaker can pronounce them, even perhaps accepting them as existing words that they do not know. We often find a similar situation with the game Call my Bluff, in which contestants jakobsin one team are given an obscure word and they take turns in convincing contestants on the aohasia team that it means what they say.

Only one gives the correct definition. The other team then has to guess which was the right one. An aphasic with a contiguity disorder would be utterly lost with Call my Bluff.

What distinguishes this type of aphasia from the first type is the dependence on the signified part of the sign. Where the first kind relied on connections between signifiers on the syntagmatic axisthis type is reliant on connections between signifiers and signified meaning on the paradigmatic axis. The syntagmatic axis runs across the utterance and is dependent upon present context: While the paradigmatic axis dips down into the absent pool of substitutions: So the two axes together make up the jakobxon universe, just as Saussure had described it, with the utterance itself moving across in time whilst simultaneously yet invisibly dipping down into the system of signs and thereby producing meaningful sentences: The signified sd is produced in the double action of contiguity a combination of selected signifiers and similarity the system of possible substitutions.

It is very important to see here that the elements of signified meaning sd are not actually existing things but emerge negatively through the subtle exclusions that are the flip side of selection. We can see that two aspects are simultaneously necessary, as follows: It is also very important not to try to define context too precisely, for the moment. I have included, in the following schema, suggestions as to some of the ways that the paradigmatic axis might make available certain kinds of signification.

It is only schematic and there are many jakobsno. Experiment with some of your own, but remember that any attempt to be too precise will tangle you in aphasis and controversies but then you can institute your own school of linguistics!


As we have already seen, the two deficiencies imply recourse to two different types of figurative jakoson, metaphor and metonymy. The two types of aphasia are polar opposites, yet there are many different varieties of aphasic disturbance, which all lie between the similarity disorder and the contiguity disorder.

In the final section of his paper he suggests that a similar situation is the case for all discourse. According to a range of determining factors, which include history, culture, personality, psychology, etc. This is observable in our nakobson use of language and ultimately in our texts. The schema itself with all its substitutions matched up on each axis clearly owes its possibility to the paradigmatic axis. Jakobson, whose discourse resides largely in the metalinguistic universe, makes an ideal linguist he was able jakobskn a multitude of languages, in each of which he jkaobson fluent.

The deficiencies of aphasics have jakobwon allowed Jakobson to sharpen up his understanding of the ways in which relatively unimpaired individuals operate in the world through language. At the extremes language fails altogether, so there needs to be at least some influence from each of the two axes. What is revealed is that most, if not alldiscourses from the arts to the sciences can be understood in terms of rhetorical tendencies.

Metaphor and metonymy

If that is indeed so then knowledge itself is grounded in rhetoric. For we have learned that the syntagmatic axis where context is the decisive factor involves the whole empirical situation, that is, everything that is at any time present to my experience.

Some of these principles are personal, habitual patterns, while others seem socially sanctioned and still others would seem to obey some more deeply inscribed necessity. Take the example of grammar. Some linguists have believed that there is at the most basic level a universal grammar, which organises the way all peoples speak. It seems that humans have the capacity to pick up particular grammars between certain ages, as those examples of children who have grown up among wolves or chickens show.

What seems likely to be the case, then, is that there is no universal grammar, but a universal ability to pick up particular grammars, and that these grammars are grounded in historicity, their rhetorical evolution. In other words, speakers of languages are historical beings through and through. Verbal works of fiction or poetry, as well as image-based artworks, like painting, photography and film, can lay bare the rhetorical dimensions of representation.

We must also take into consideration that these forms of what we call representation are also aspects that cannot be dissociated from the total context for addressees, readers, spectators and observers. They therefore contribute integrally to any given perception of reality.

The Map on the Wall. I want to finish up by taking a short example of some modern literary writing Here we should see how a close analysis is capable of revealing the operation of rhetoric in texts, and we can interpret a particular text in terms of what it has to say itself about the rhetorical dimension.

The novel is set in by then post-colonial Ireland and the story takes place in a British Castle called Kinaltythe home of a family the Tennants who, as their name suggests, are not landed gentry but nouveau rich and their servants. Mrs Tennant has jakobzon having a secret affair with a local man, Captain Dermot Davenport of Clancarty castle, a few miles from Kinalty.

What this forenoon halted Charley in the study while on his weekly round rewinding clocks was a reminder in the red notebook to charge 10s. This was fixed to the top of the tower and turned with a wind in the usual way. Where it differed from similar appliances was that Mr Tennant had had it connected to a pointer which was set to swing over aphxsia large map of the country round about elaborately painted over the mantelpiece.

Raunce did not yet know how the thing worked. He stood and pondered and asked himself aloud where he could say he was going to fix replacements if she asked him.