Aging macro-linguistic dimension is responsible for intra sentential
Aging is often described by changes
in the cognitive function which affects the receptive and expressive
capabilities of the language (Riegel and Riegel 1964, Marini et al.
2005). Language sample analysis is considered one of the best
practices for language skills assessment. In this method, different aspects of the
language are analyzed after collecting linguistic sample (Justice et al. 2010). For taking a
linguistic sample, various types of discourse, including descriptive,
narrative, procedural, persuasive, interpretive, and conversational discourse
can be used (Ball et al. 2009).
Narrative discourse mostly elicited
by pictorial stimulus wherein the basic feature is temporal and casual relations between events (Mar 2004) Picture description is one of the dominant
methods in eliciting narrative discourse (Cannizzaro
and Coelho 2013), which leads to a better understanding of language skills
(Capilouto et al. 2016). Persuasion is a complex and essential skill, which continues to
develop into early adulthood (Nippold et al.
2005). In general, comparing to narrative production, persuasion task is
considered to be more cognitively demanding (Felton
and Kuhn 2001). Persuasive discourse attempts to express an opinion and
give reasons to support that opinion (Ball,
Perkins et al. 2009). This type of discourse may occur in both formal
situations (e.g. school debates, school essays) and informal situations (e.g.
convincing a friend to see a movie or parents to purchase the latest electronic
gadget). The ability to persuade and use arguments effectively is considered a
fundamental social interaction skill (Bartsch et
In fact, language is a complex and dynamic cognitive system in
terms of some important processing dimensions: the micro-linguistic, macrostructure and macro-linguistic. The micro-linguistic
dimension is responsible for inter-sentential functions, macrostructure is responsible for across-sentence analyses and the macro-linguistic dimension
is responsible for intra sentential functioning (Coelho
2007, Marini et al. 2011).
The micro-linguistic dimension organizes phonological (or graphemic) sequences chains and words (lexical processing), and
determines the syntax needed for each word to make good-looking sentences
(syntactic processing). Macrostructural level of discourse or cohesion is defined as
the set of the possibilities that exist in a sentence for connecting a given
statement with previous statement. On the other hand, sentences are conjoined by various kinds of meaning
relations described as cohesive ties (Coelho
2007). The macro-linguistic dimension determines the
meaning of a word or sentence that has a proper context and connects sentences
and statements together by means of cohesion and coherence so as to formulate
the main subject of discourse and integrate cognitive and linguistic
characteristics (Marini, Andreetta et al. 2011). In other words, coherence refers to overall stability in
discourse. That is, overall coherence indicates how each sentence in a discourse sample is related to the overall subject of the text (Enos 2011).
Studies on age-related differences in adult linguistic
abilities yielded different results. Although some studies have been conducted
regarding the linguistic changes in the old age, they have had different
results. Some scholars believe that the elderly language varies in terms of the
micro-structure (Au et al. 1995). However, findings of other researchers show that this
aspect of language does not change in old age (Evans
et al. 1993, Marini, Boewe et al. 2005). Although the findings of other
studies reveal that older adults differ from young adults in terms of some
microstructural aspects including semantic paraphasia, no difference in sentence
complexity was found (Marini, Boewe et al. 2005).
This inconsistency in the results is less present in
macro structural dimension. Furthermore, according to a study, the correct
information unit (CIU) (Capilouto et al. 2005)
and main events (Capilouto, Wright et al. 2005,
Wright et al. 2005) are significantly higher in the young people’s
discourse than in the elderly. Marini et al. also reported that older people
significantly produce discourses with less thematic informativeness than young
ones (Marini, Boewe et al. 2005).
language plays a significant role in human life for establishing social
interactions, and also because speech-language pathologist
make important contributions in maintaining and promoting communication in aging
people, by awareness of discourse features in the older people, it seems that
it is necessary to examine the language of the older people. This study seeks
to provide a comprehensive and detailed view of adults’ discourse abilities and
their variations throughout life. By taking into consideration this assumption,
this study examined individuals aged 19 to 75 years. Finally,
in order to evaluate the existence of age-related differences in macrostructure
and macrolinguistic levels of discourse, the narrative and persuasive discourse
of different age groups were compared.