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Comd Current Events Paper

In: Social Issues

Submitted By cws1991
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Current Events: The Man Who Could No Longer Speak To His Wife

Aphasia is defined as loss of ability to understand or express speech, caused by brain damage. Basically, you know what you’re trying to say, but you just can’t say it. This was partly the situation for a German man last year, in 2012. In this particular situation, the man knew a language to communicate with, but just not the right one.
Fluent in Standard German, Swiss German, and French, a man suffered from a bad stroke that left him with the inability to speak in Standard German anymore. As this was the language spoken in his household, he was aware that there would be some tough times ahead. The stroke made him lose consciousness for a few days. Then, upon waking up, he immediately realized he was the only French-speaking individual in the room. Some time went by and the man’s speech slowly regained an understandable level, with the help from his children, who only knew what they knew from school.
The target audience for this article is mostly for adults, who are interested in hearing though-provoking stories of what could happen to them in their life. Immediately following the stroke, the man’s family was forced to experience their father and husband, speak a completely different language that they did not already name. As far as treatment for the catastrophe, the man just continued to live his life. Slowly, but surely, he was soon unable to speak French fluently, and almost immediately, he regained his ability speak Standard German. Finally, he was able to speak to his family again.
This phenomenon was described, as “antagonistic,” by McGill University’s Michel Paradis. Meaning, one language essentially takes the place of another. This particular case study is so important because it shows that “the relationship between emotions and bilingualism plays out differently for different individuals” (Grosjean). It’s often an overlooked component of speech for people outside of the profession, but as soon as it breaks down, people notice very quickly.
As stated in the previous paragraph, the patient’s condition slowly improved to the point where he no longer could fluently speak French, but rather, he could only speak Standard and Swiss German. The clinician knew that the treatment was successful, because communication with the man’s family was restored, and he was no longer even able to speak French. The problem was caused by a stroke. The family feared that they would no longer be able to speak with him ever again. The couple’s two young boys were forced to be interpreters, although their knowledge of the French language was rather dismal. Life was definitely hard before the man regained his normal speech.

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