Dementia causes lexical decline

The Research-text “Longitudinal detection of dementia through lexical and syntactic changes in writing: a case study of three British novelists”, written by the Canadian researchers Xuan Le, Ian Lancashire, Graeme Hirst and Regina Jokel and published in “Literary and Linguistic Computing, Volume 26, Issue 4, 1 December 2011, Pages 435–461” (available at:, argues on the basis of “a large-scale longitudinal study of lexical and syntactic changes in language in Alzheimer’s disease” (Abstract) run on three famous english writers, both healthy and affected, that their “results support [their] hypothesis that signs of dementia can be found in diachronic analyses of patients’ writings” (6 Conclusion). Both Iris Murdoch’s and Agatha Christie’s late writings show “a strong linguistic decline” with regard to grammatical variation or flexibility, while P.D. James’ don’t. The results are though slightly contraticted in some minor fields, and other minor fields brings a slight confusion into the results. The outcome of these discrepancies are, that the researchers are permitted to conclude, that the affected’s lexical patterns show a stronger decline than do their syntactical patterns.

Commenting on the study, I haven’t enough knowledge to match their Level – in neither statistics nor in their methodology. The quantitative evidence always are strong in its specific way, and always are open to criticism With regard to strongness – i.e. from a humanist point of view, one would say weakness – of idea, concept, or even ideology … One argument against – that admittedly lies on a quite different Level than statistics – would be that even by a writer like Christie or Murdoch, it would have to be accepted that they could grow tired or out of shape for some Shorter or longer time … a reasoning that perhaps would soften the often slightly to bombastic and harsh impact one get – not in the way conclusions are drawn, but in the way premices and methodology usually are settled – from Natural science doing research on human beings.

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