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Original scientific paper

Ida Hitrec, Ana Knežević, Milorad Pupovac, Martina Sekulić Sović, Ivana Simeon, Department of linguistics, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Zagreb

 

Abstract

As semantic deficits are considered to be the basis of cognitive difficulties in schizophrenia,
including language and thinking, manifesting themselves as idiosyncratically organised semantic
memory, it is understandable that the language of people suffering from schizophrenia captured
the interest of linguists who, depending on the linguistic level observed, noticed semantic,
syntactic and pragmatic deficits of the disease. However, the majority of linguistic studies of
schizophrenia were conducted on English speakers. The present paper is a first study of this
type conducted on a patient who is a native speaker of Croatian and it is intended as a starting
point for future, more extensive research that would contribute to a better understanding of
deficits and allow for a more precise differential diagnosis of the disorder.
The paper gives a detailed overview of the case study that was conducted on a female
schizophrenic patient currently undergoing treatment for schizophrenia at the University
Psychiatric Hospital Vrapče in Zagreb. The patient’s spontaneous speech was analysed at the
phonological, morphological, syntactic, semantic and pragmatic levels. The patient’s discourse
exhibited primarily pragmatic errors, with the patient failing to manage context in a pragmatically
appropriate way and to suppress irrelevant context. Disintegration of the deictic frame was also
observed.
The analysis of our patient’s speech reveals several symptoms which are consistent with the
phenomena observed in earlier studies on English–speaking schizophrenic patients, including
derailment, loss of goal, tangentiality and thought blocking. The paper provides an in–depth
exploration and discussion of selected segments of the patient’s discourse and, in conclusion,
gives an outline of the implications for future research.

 

Keywords

schizophrenia, thought/language disorder, linguistics, discourse analysis, context

 

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