Public Lecture: Linguistic Research to Improve Quality of Life in Older People
As part of the Research for Arts and Humanities Public Lecture Series Professor Alison Wray will give a lecture focusing on how linguistic research can contribute to improving the quality of life in older people, particularly those with cognitive degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease.
Title: Making Impact in Humanities: Linguistic Research to Improve Quality of Life in Older People
Speakers: Alison Wray, Professor of Language and Communication, Cardiff University
Date: Thursday November 25, 2010
Time: Refreshments will be served from 5.15pm, the lecture will commence at 6pm
Venue: Wallace Lecture Theatre, Wallace Building, Swansea University
Other: This is a public lecture and all are welcome.
The lecture will consider a number of case studies including a well-meant, but counter-productive, attempt to stimulate language through a proverbs game in a day centre for people with dementia. Opportunities for future research will be outlined, including the need for a large corpus of language spoken by older people that can be used as a normative reference point when diagnosing cognitive decline; and practical ways of using training to influence carers’ use of language and their understanding of its impact.
About the speaker:
Professor Alison Wray is an internationally recognised leader in research into formulaic language (strings of words that trip off the tongue as if processed like a single word, including idioms, proverbs, greetings, and common expressions).
Formulaic language is a feature of fluency in our first language, but also strongly signals identity. It plays a major role during development and is a key variable in the level of success people have in mastering another language after childhood. Formulaic language is remarkably resilient in language disorders, including aphasia and Alzheimer’s disease, and helps repair and sustain communication when other aspects of language ability are reduced.
Professor Wray has published two major research monographs on this topic; Formulaic language and the lexicon (CUP, 2002) and Formulaic language: pushing the boundaries (OUP, 2008), as well as numerous papers reporting theoretical and empirical studies, including several on the evolutionary origins of language. She has held research grants from the AHRC, ESRC, Nuffield Foundation, Leverhulme Trust and IELTS, and is currently principal academic investigator on a two-year WAG-funded project to develop research-driven improvements in Welsh for Adults teaching across Wales.
Professor Wray is also collaborating with Dr Tess Fitzpatrick of Swansea University on an ESRC project on word association responses—one of a series of investigations into the genetic basis of language, using data from two Australian Twin Studies, one on adolescents and one on twins over 65 years of age.
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