Linguistic characteristics of AAC discourse in the workplace

Eric Friginal, Pamela Pearson, Laura Di Ferrante, Lucy Pickering, Carrie Bruce

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


This study examines linguistic co-occurrence patterns in the discourse of individuals with communication impairments who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices in the workplace by comparing them to those of non-AAC users in similar job settings. A typical workweek (≈ 40 hours) per focal participant (four AAC; four non-AAC) was recorded and transcribed to create a specialized corpus of workplace discourse of approximately 464,000 words at the time of this analysis. A multidimensional analysis of co-occurrence patterns along functional linguistic dimensions, following Biber (1988, 1995) [Variation across Speech and Writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; Dimensions of Register Variation: A Cross-Linguistic Perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press], reveals differences in the macro discourse characteristics of AAC vis-a-vis non-AAC texts. Results indicate that AAC texts make use of more informational, non-narrative, and explicit textual features of discourse than their non-AAC counterparts. Implications to improve the capabilities of AAC devices to produce speech that matches baseline expectations of co-workers in the workplace are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-298
Number of pages20
JournalDiscourse Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


  • Augmentative and alternative communication devices
  • communication impairments
  • corpus linguistics
  • discourse analysis
  • multidimensional analysis
  • workplace discourse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language


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