Alison Wray

Alison Wray
Cardiff University | CU · School of English, Communication and Philosophy

BA, DPhil, FHEA, AcSS, FLSW

About

84
Publications
16,719
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Citations
Introduction
My current work is on communication in the context of dementia, examining the impact of cognitive decline on social interaction, including the responses of carers. My book The Dynamics of Dementia Communication (Oxford University Press, 2020) won the annual book prize of the British Association for Applied Linguistics. I have also published a 'trade' book on the topic of dementia communication: Why Dementia Makes Communication Difficult: A Guide to Better Outcomes (Jessica Kingsley, 2021)

Publications

Publications (84)
Article
Full-text available
The study of linguistics is at an interesting juncture. The Chomskian claims about the Language Acquisition Device and Universal Grammar are essentially neurobiological claims and evolutionary biological claims. However, until recently our evolutionary and neurobiological knowledge was insufficient to directly address these areas. Now with what we...
Article
Full-text available
Idioms are multi-word expressions whose meaning cannot always be deduced from the literal meaning of constituent words. A key feature of idioms that is central to this paper is their peculiar mixture of fixedness and variability, which poses challenges for their retrieval from large corpora using traditional search approaches. These challenges hind...
Book
It is well recognized that when people are living with a dementia, effective communication can be a challenge for both them and those they interact with. Despite a plethora of good advice, it can be surprisingly hard to sustain constructive communicative behaviours and to integrate them successfully into routine daily care and interaction. This b...
Chapter
This chapter considers how social attitudes and contexts shape interaction with people living with a dementia. These factors are termed ‘soft’ causes of dementia, because they affect people’s experience of the disease but are potentially open to change. Topics covered include the ‘medicalization’ and the commodification of dementia, the limitations...
Chapter
This chapter begins part 2 of the book, in which a new model of communication is developed. The chapter asks how impact is achieved through communication and proposes that the core driver of communication with others is the desire to enlist their cooperation in making beneficial change to our experiential world. The Communicative Impact model has t...
Chapter
This chapter explores the nature of memory and the impact on communication of the memory deficits associated with dementia. The main types of memory are described (long-term, short-term, working, declarative, implicit, emotional, episodic). The process of recalling information is discussed, and the natural changes associated with ageing are conside...
Chapter
Much has been learned about how to provide good-quality care for dementia. While specific methods and approaches may come and go, some core underpinning principles—respect for personhood, empathy, quality engagement, identity, and sense of purpose and worth—have become well established, are consistently focal, and are recognized as vital for the we...
Chapter
This chapter asks, what impact does the conceptual positioning of people living with a dementia have on communication? Exploring some of the effects of low social and emotional reserve, it shows how treating a person as fundamentally different in kind from oneself, rather than only different in degree, offers scope to remain emotionally separate bu...
Chapter
This chapter asks, how do the brain changes associated with diseases of dementia affect communication? The biological diseases leading to dementia are termed ‘hard’ causes. The main types of dementia (Alzheimer’s, vascular, frontotemporal including semantic, and Lewy body) are reviewed, with a focus on their impact on language and communication cap...
Chapter
This chapter opens part 3, within which the focus is a new understanding of why communication is challenging in the dementia context and how improvements could be made to practice. The Communicative Impact model is used to shed light on how the various ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ causes of dementia interact with the generation of messages, and why failing to...
Chapter
In many ways, communication problems are the most debilitating feature of dementia. While deficits of memory and information processing are challenging in their own right, it is their impact on communication that undermines a person’s social functioning, relationships and identity. This chapter asks how existing approaches to care attempt to addres...
Chapter
Communication is an early casualty of dementia symptoms on account of the loss of confidence and agency arising from reduced expressive ability, plus the challenges to identity associated with memory impairment. Drawing on first-hand accounts, this chapter explores how people living with a dementia and their carers perceive the role of communicatio...
Chapter
This chapter provides theoretical justification for the model described in the previous chapter. The evolutionary drive to create and sustain a comfortable personal world is first explored, giving consideration not only to the imperatives of physical survival and procreation but also social ‘survival.’ Altruism is discussed, as a potential counterc...
Article
In multi-ethnic contexts, it is not uncommon to find that dementia carers or their clients are using, as the medium for communication in care, a language in which they are not comfortable and/or are not fluent. In extreme cases, there could be no shared linguistic code at all. This article asks how feasible it is to provide adequate care with inade...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives: To demonstrate the power of integrating three theoretical perspectives (Mentalization Theory, Perceptual Control Theory and the Communicative Impact model), which jointly illuminate the communication challenges and opportunities faced by family carers of people with dementia. To point the way to how this framework informs the design an...
Article
This paper explores two questions central to understanding the nature of formulaic sequences: (1) What are they for? and (2) What determines how many there are? The "Communicative Impact" model draws into a single account how language is shaped by cognitive processing on the one hand and socio-interactional function on the other: Formulaic sequence...
Article
It is proposed that conflict is an almost inevitable outcome, when, as in dementia communication, the delicate relationship between linguistic processing and pragmatics is upset. This relationship has been little researched, even though much is known about the two components in isolation. Making particular use of key observations and claims from th...
Article
Language is a balance of precision and flexibility, and scientific dialogue across disciplines faces challenges in how terms are used and how phenomena, including language itself, are described and explained. Taking dementia as its focus, this article offers linguistic perspectives on causes of inherent difficulty with terminological exactness. Att...
Article
Arbib's article [1] offers a sophisticated and convincing account of the evolution of human language that does not shy away from nailing together neurophysiology and the forms and functions of language. The core recognition of what language does, rather than just what language looks like or how its forms are generated, gives the model a high level...
Article
This study examines whether native and non-native speakers faced with unfamiliar formulaic expressions use the same tactics for working out what they mean. The test items needed to be semantically opaque, used in an authentic context and unknown to all participants. Ten obsolete expressions were selected from the historical novels of Georgette Heye...
Article
Full-text available
This paper explores the ambiguous nature of applied linguistics as a field of enquiry, to contextualise the interpretation of data from an empirical study into how research expertise in applied linguistics is conceptualised, and how it develops during an academic’s career. Key findings from the study include the importance of being willing to work...
Chapter
Dementia refers to a set of conditions affecting aspects of cognitive processing, caused by damage to the brain's cerebrum. The cerebrum is composed of four major regions, or lobes, which between them manage higher mental functions including sensory perception, movement, memory, thought, recognition, attention, consciousness, and language. It also...
Chapter
Butler (2009a, b) argues that an adequate model of the language system should accommodate cognitive, sociocultural, discoursal, acquisitional, typological and diachronic dimensions, and observational evidence from corpora, experiments and intuition. This paper asks if such reconciliation is possible. It argues that language is composed of accreted...
Book
A manual for research leaders in the social sciences, to support their staff in developing research expertise. Based on empirical data (interviews with social science research experts, mostly in business and management and applied linguistics), there are workshop designs, quotes and many observations about how to help researchers reach their potent...
Chapter
This chapter proposes that there is a link, through language, between the challenges of compassionate care and the stress experienced by care-givers. For a combination of cognitive and social reasons, people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) need to rely more and more on formulaic language. It is suggested that this type of language exacerbates an elem...
Chapter
We all know what a word is. Yet describing and defining the word is far from easy. So, what is the source of our intuition? Is the word a universal concept across human languages? Is it a cognitive necessity, enabling us to express our ideas using small recombinable units? Or are our intuitions more superficial, reflecting only the convention of wh...
Article
Full-text available
This article argues that, across different psychological contexts, the methods of data collection, treatment, and analysis in word association tests have hitherto been inconsistent. We demonstrate that this inconsistency has resulted from inadequate control, in previous studies, of certain important variables including the basis of norm comparisons...
Article
Formulaic language takes many forms and has a range of semantic and pragmatic characteristics. Consequently, it resists simple definitions and remains difficult to identify consistently in real text. It is closely allied with the notion of idiomaticity and is recognized as a major obstacle for post-childhood second language learners. The explanatio...
Chapter
This paper explores the possibility that formulaic language might be part of the explanation for the high incidence of stress and mental health problems in those caring for people with dementia, and also for the much–publicised problems in the health care sector with lack of compassion on the part of caregivers. Specifically, it is proposed that th...
Chapter
A “formulaic sequence” is broadly defined as a string of words with a meaning or function different from that of its component parts and which, for that reason, is hypo-thesized to be processed holistically.
Article
Purpose ‐ This paper aims to demonstrate how fundamental social and psychological drivers can affect the language used by people with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and their carers. Design/methodology/approach ‐ A theoretical model is used to predict four ways in which communicative priorities in a given context will generate formulaic linguistic respon...
Article
This article briefly summarizes key developments in formulaic language research over the past 5 years, before exploring certain assumptions typically made, regarding the coherence of formulaicity as a phenomenon, the significance of frequency as a property, and the location of subtypes of formulaic language along various continua. It is argued that...
Article
What measurements should linguists use when comparing texts written by different writers? We report aspects of a systematic evaluation of 381 different language measures derived from 200 analytic tools, carried out during the pilot for a study exploring genetic contributions to language variation. The measures covered lexis, structure, meaning, and...
Article
Full-text available
Some types of formulaic (routine and familiar) language seem to remain fairly intact in people with language and memory disturbances, making it a useful tool for both testing language skills and supporting language retention and use. Proverbs can reasonably be considered a subset of formulaic language, and while it is known that the ability to unde...
Article
Carers recognize that the linguistic problems associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD) can be detrimental to effective communication, but they are often not sure what they can do to help. This article examines the use of formulaic language in AD, including routines, repetitions, and fillers, through the lens of a model of how cognitive and social p...
Article
It is argued that future research capacity building for the social sciences needs to incorporate methods to accelerate the acquisition by researchers of holistic expertise relevant to their roles as researchers and as developers of others. An agenda is presented, based on a model of learning that highlights missing elements of current provision, an...
Article
This study describes how the participants in a singers’ master class weekend collaborated with their teacher, an internationally renowned former opera singer in her mid-80s, to compensate for the difficulties in communication caused by her dementia. The workshop’s success was due to the teacher’s professionalism and personal dignity; the high estee...
Article
What measurements should linguists use when comparing texts written by different writers? We report aspects of a systematic evaluation of 381 different language measures derived from 200 analytic tools, carried out during the pilot for a study exploring genetic contributions to language variation. The measures covered lexis, structure, meaning, and...
Article
Adult second language learners often come across as proficient but not native-like, with a command of the words and grammar of the language, but not of its idiomaticity. Idiomaticity resides in selecting the most native-like turn of phrase from a larger set of ways in which a particular message might be grammatically expressed. This article investi...
Chapter
In this concluding chapter, I will reflect on some of the issues, challenges, and opportunities for research into L2 collocation, referring back to the studies in the book and outward to the broader context. My use of the term ‘collocation’ will be somewhat loose, both so as to capture the range of data types covered in the book, and because there...
Article
Data was collected from the BBC Singers during rehearsals and recording sessions leading to a broadcast and CD of a musical setting of an Early Modern English (EModE) text. Three patterns emerged in the singers' pronunciation of the EModE phonemes /æ:/ and /ε:/. One, [æ] and [ε] respectively, reflected the targets but was not sustainable. The secon...
Article
A new education policy for England, announced in Spring 2007, aims to introduce the learning of a foreign language to all children from the age of 8 by the year 2010. But there was a similar initiative in the 1960s and it didn't work then, so why should it now? This presentation explores the reasons underlying the belief that children can ‘naturall...
Article
Full-text available
While it would be difficult to dispute that individuals vary in their facility with both their native language and with foreign languages, a central tenet of modern linguistics has been that such variation is secondary, and there is a primary level of equality across all individuals. Syntactic theory and sociolinguistic theory have both contributed...
Article
We explore the proposal that the linguistic forms and structures employed by our earliest language-using ancestors might have been significantly different from those observed in the languages we are most familiar with today, not because of a biological difference between them and us, but because the communicative context in which they operated was...
Article
What relative weighting should be given, in a court case, to psycholin-guistic and sociolinguistic explanations of an alleged offence? We review the case of an African-American plaintiff, who claimed that her receipt at work of a framed document with the title 'Temporary Coon Ass Certificate' from a white male supervisory-level employee in the same...
Chapter
Recently, linguists from several quarters have begun to unpack some of the assumptions and claims made in linguistics over the last 40 years, opening up new possibilities for synergies between linguistic theory and the variety of fields that engage with it. A key point of exploration is the relationship between external manifestations of language a...
Article
Six intermediate/advanced learners of English, studying in the United Kingdom, identified messages that they wanted to convey in specific future conversations and memorized native-like versions of them. Their ability to use them in practice and in the real conversation was analyzed. Propensity to attempt using memorized material correlated with aur...
Article
Six intermediate/advanced learners of English, studying in the United Kingdom, identified messages that they wanted to convey in specific future conversations and memorized native-like versions of them. Their ability to use them in practice and in the real conversation was analyzed. Propensity to attempt using memorized material correlated with aur...
Article
Why are humans musical? Why do people in all cultures sing or play instruments? Why do we appear to have specialized neurological apparatus for hearing and interpreting music as distinct from other sounds? And how does our musicality relate to language and to our evolutionary history? Anthropologists and archaeologists have paid little attention to...
Article
What relative weighting should be given, in a court case, to psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic explanations of an alleged offence? We review the case of an African-American plaintiff, who claimed that her receipt at work of a framed document with the title `Temporary Coon Ass Certificate' from a white male supervisory-level employee in the same...
Article
Our tolerance for, and promotion of, linguistic irregularity is a key arbitrator between Arbib's proposal that holistic protolanguage preceded culturally imposed compositionality, and the standard view that discrete units with word-like properties came first. The former, coupled with needs-only analysis, neatly accounts for the second-order linguis...
Article
Full-text available
TESSA is an interactive translation system designed to support transactions between a post office clerk and a deaf customer. The system translates the clerk’s speech into British Sign Language (BSL), displayed on a screen, using a specially-developed avatar (virtual human). TESSA is a context-constrained exemplification of one of two basic approach...
Article
This paper explores the adoption of aspects of Welsh social identity by members of an American college choir specialising in Welsh repertoire. Drawing on questionnaires, face-to-faceande-mailinterviews,andrecordingsofthechoirinperformance,apicture is built up of the singers' attitudes towards Welsh people, culture and language, and their linguistic...
Article
The abstract for this document is available on CSA Illumina.To view the Abstract, click the Abstract button above the document title.
Article
A recent model of language processing in normal native speakers (Wray, 2002a) proposes that speakers reap substantial benefits from storing and retrieving prefabri-cated utterances from memory, rather than always constructing novel ones on line. Substantial evidence from a wide range of linguistic research is consistent with the model, but independ...
Article
This article explores how academic linguists have become marginalised from policy-making aimed at reforming English teaching in English schools,and how they are now beginning to contribute again. A pluralistic model of interaction between central government politicians,linguists and media professionals is applied to two “critical incidents.” First,...
Article
One important component of successful language learning is the mastery of idiomatic forms of expression, including idioms, collocations, and sentence frames (collectively referred to here as formulaic sequences). Three attempts to foreground formulaic sequences in teaching syllabuses are those of Willis (1990), Nattinger and DeCarrico (1992), and L...
Article
1. Introduction1.1. The nature of formulaic language‘Formulaicity’ and ‘formulaic sequence’ will be used in this paper to describe, in aneutral way, a phenomenon that encompasses various types of wordstring whichappear to be stored and retrieved whole from memory. Our working definition ofthe formulaic sequence will be:a sequence, continuous or disc...

Questions

Question (1)
Question
IIget plenty of notifications from RG into my email but the ONE THING I'm not getting is notification that someone wants my publication. I don't get why. It seems so obvious. I've gone onto RG and found requests have been sitting there for ages. I didn't know they were there.
I've checked all the settings I can find, and although there's an option to be notified if someone who's not on RG requests my publication, I can't see one to check or uncheck if they are on RG.
Have I just missed it?

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Project (1)
Project
Examining the impact on social interaction of someone experiencing cognitive decline. Formulaic language plays a role, but it's a lot broader in scope.