Communication & Medicine, Vol 11, No 3 (2014)

Defusing practices as mitigation in speech and language intervention

Christina Samuelsson, Charlotta Plejert, Jan Anward
Issued Date: 27 Apr 2016


In the present paper, speech and language intervention was investigated in order to explore the use and function of defusing practices. Defusing practices may be viewed as a special form of mitigation. In previous research, including studies on clinical interaction, mitigation has been described mainly as devices used in order to reduce the unwelcome effects of an utterance, or reduce the discomfort of bad news. Defusing practices, however, appear to serve somewhat different functions, which are examined here. Data comprises video and audio recordings of eight intervention sessions with children with language impairment (LI), and six intervention sessions with adults with aphasia, The analysis revealed the following kinds of defusing practices: circumscriptions/figurative language, diminutive words, words like ‘try’ or ‘test’, placing the problem outside of the patient, collective pronouns, diminishing the speech and language pathologist’s own competence, encouragement, and references to well-known phenomena. If speech and language therapists (SLPs) are made aware of the practice and function of defusing, they may make conscious use of these practices in order to reduce face-threatening situations in intervention

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DOI: 10.1558/cam.v11i3.24802


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