First Advisor

Rhea Paul

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Speech Communication


Speech Communication


Cohesion (Linguistics), Older people -- Language



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, vi, 80 p.)


The group of people aged 85 years and older is the fastest growing chronological population on the United States (Neal et al., 1993), and while a considerable amount of research has focused on the language of the elderly (those over 65 years), relatively little study has focused specifically on those aged 85 and older. This study is valuable in that it includes a large sample of optimally healthy people aged 85 and older. This sample of the optimally-healthy oldest-old will help define what changes, if any, are a function of age alone and what changes are clinical (associated with some disease, neurologic complication, or psychological impairment). The purpose of this study was to compare two groups of elderly people's use of cohesion during an expository discourse task. This study also sought to answer the following question: If no health problems exist, does age alone affect the cohesion in the expository discourse of the elderly? To effect this comparison, a comparison of cohesive use in a group of 12 people between the ages of 65 and 75 years (the young-old) was contrasted with cohesion used by a group of 27 people aged 85 years and older (the oldest-old). The subjects were gathered as part of the Oregon Brain Aging Study under the direction of doctors Diane Howieson and Jeffrey Kaye of the Portland VA Medical Center. The subjects had to meet strict inclusion and exclusion criteria. As part of the evaluations for the Oregon Brain Aging Study, each subject was audiotaped while describing the fishing picture from the Neurobehavioral Cognitive Inventory (Kiernan et al., 1987). Each sample was then transcribed, divided into T-Units, and analyzed according to the cohesive analysis designed by Liles (1985) and Liles et al. (1989). Group comparisons for each aspect of cohesion (frequency, style, and adequacy) was completed using a 1- test. No significant differences at the .05 level were found on any of the measures.


If you are the rightful copyright holder of this dissertation or thesis and wish to have it removed from the Open Access Collection, please submit a request to and include clear identification of the work, preferably with URL

Persistent Identifier