On one of the forms of acoustic agnosia. Tongue-tie in speech and writing

General Information

Keywords: tongue-tie, reading difficulties, writing difficulties, acoustic agnosia

Journal rubric: History of Science

For citation: Boskis R.M., Levina R.E. On one of the forms of acoustic agnosia. Tongue-tie in speech and writing. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2006. Vol. 2, no. 5 (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)

A Part of Article

The article of R.M. Boskis, R.E.. Levina was published 70 years ago (1936.) It’s repeated publication accompanied by commentary of Tatyana Vasil’evna Ahutina that replies why this article is of great interest today.

It is known, that R.E.Levina was one of five nearest students of L.S. Vygotsky. Under L.S.Vygotsky initiative and with support of I.I.Danjushevsky she supervised over small correctional group of employees in Experimental institute of Defectology (now it is Institute of correctional pedagogics of the Russian Open Society). There is an indicative fact, that in 1935 R.E. Levina made ready for the press the big article of L.S. Vygotsky “The diagnostics of development and pedological clinic of the difficult childhood “, published as the separate brochure in 1936. It was time when the mention of L.S. Vygotsky ‘s name could entail the most serious consequences. In the article of 1936 the name of the Teacher also is mentioned. The authors approve that “confused articulation is not the homogeneous impairment in all cases. The mechanisms of confused articulation in different cases with similar symptoms can appear to be completely various“. It is quite modern idea, which till now does not lose the urgency because many experts overlook about it and consider only symptoms, instead of mechanisms laying under them.

The researches in the field of pathology of speech are more often devoted to studying aphasic disorder whereas confused articulation is absolutely uninvestigated till now though it is the most widespread impairment of speech at children. Studying of this form of speech impairment is important not only from the pedagogical point of view, but also from a position of neuropathology and psychology. In the literature the confused articulation is described as the defect dependent on insufficient muscular force, reduced to every possible replacements and wrong pronunciations.

We think, that confused articulation is not the homogeneous impairment. The mechanisms of confused articulation in different cases of similar symptoms can appear to be various; thus in most cases they arise not as motor defect, but can have in the basis of impairment the sensory cause. Our research was carried out at clinic of speech disorders. Cases of confused articulation in the speech accompanying by confused articulation in the writing and reading were considered. We can raise the question about revision of traditional understanding of a nature of agraphia in alexia.

The first case: Petya S., of 8 years 6 months, was directed to clinic EDI with complaints to illegible speech. The child has the high intelligence, confused articulation in speech and in difficulties in mastering by the correct writing. He mixes some sounds. He replace sounds oppositional to each other, “b’, ‘d’, ‘g’ on ‘p’, ‘t’, ‘k’ and “f’, “s” “sh” on “v”, “z”, “zh”, mixes “r” and “l”, uses incorrect mitigation, instead of “c” says “t” and has other defects. The same lacks are marked in writing. At excellent distinction of physical sounding of these sounds, the child substitutes opposition sounds in speech and writing and feels troubles when it is necessary to use this or that member of opposition. Owing to lack of skill to differentiate relations between pair sounds he makes mistakes also in writing.

In the second case (Vasya A, 12 years; 3 months, has arrived in clinic of speech EDI with complaints to difficulties in training in writing and unclear speech. The research has shown, that the boy has hereditary aggravation of pronunciation. He has good intellectual development with isolated defect of speech. In spontaneous speech there is a mixture of sibiliant and whistling sounds, “r” and “l”, “b” and “p”. In written speech complex confused articulation is also brightly expressed. In this case with safe hearing defects of speech observably can have the source only in impairment n sphere of subtle distinction of some sounds (“t” and “d”, “r” and “l”, mitigation of consonants, sibiliants and iotacism of vowels). Displaying of confused articulation in writing is kept till now, apparently, it grows out due to training as child who perceive normally the environmental speech, with leaning on the acoustical control while the way of his training should be of another type. His motor speech apparatus is safe. He copies off well, has subtle impairments of perception of colors, and spatial perception.

In both given cases we observed two deviations from the norm going side by side: confused articulation in a pronunciation and confused articulation in writing.

We are convinced, that in all cases without exception the difficulty to master correct writing it is necessary to expect the impairments in speech. However their recognition can appear to be inconvenient. Defects of a pronunciation can be very subtle, externally insignificant and well compensated. More detailed analysis in conditions of special speech clinic reveals these defects without special difficulties. For example, the boy Ts., 10 years old, was directed to the teacher with complaints to difficulties in mastering the writing as on the single defect (the teacher denies the confused articulation). Meanwhile at special research we have found out alongside with confused articulation in writing obviously expressed confused articulation in speech that consists of the following: mixture of voiced and voiceless sounds (“b”—”p”, “d”—”t”), replacement of “r” on “l” and opposite, absence of mitigations and mitigation of firm consonants. At child’s speech we found “sliding” sounds, therefore it resembled a little the speech of the foreigner speaking in Russian.

In a science there is completely clear idea that confused articulation in some cases can be accompanied by impairments in writing. But at the same time these impairments are considered as isolated which can interact in one case and have no interaction in other.

The position in which the basis of understanding of these two impairments either as detached or as inducing one another seems to be incorrect to us. We assume, that both described impairments have a uniform nature. In the given cases we see the obvious concurrence of these defects. And the reason of the child is not able to pronounce correctly a number of sounds lays not in motor defect, but in the essentially changed perception of the child. The pronunciation, reading and the writing, suffer from identical defects so it is the perception of our speech. In our cases we have safe hearing, but there are subtle impairments in sphere of acoustical perception, which have caused changes of speech.

What are these changes? What psychological preconditions being necessary at mastering correct speech and writing? Physical safe eyesight is not the sufficient basis for vision and perception of semantic structures. Professor. L.S. Vygotsky specified that the human perception arise not as the sum of separate visual sensations and not as autonomic structures independent of meaning, but from initial semantic perception, which is the integrated activity by nature. In the absence of such integrated activity the perception of the agnostic arises. A number of new researches in the field of linguistics has shown, that in sphere of sound speech it is impossible to speak about casual sound combinations. Perceiving speech, we perceive not separate sounds which, being summarized, form speech, but correlations of these sounds among themselves. Human speech represents sound system where sounds are not the isolated units. Sounds form the certain relations between themselves. The child, just started to speak, makes mistakes, which specify that he can’t catch these relations between sounds. We believe, that the way of learning these relations lays through generalization of oppositional pairs (“b”—”p”, “r”—”l”, etc.) as elements of a single whole. For example, the phonetic analysis of “s” and “sh” shows, that there is a similar relation between these sounds. But in this case the attribute, which differentiate them one from another, consists not of sonority, as in the first case, but of the height of a sound.

The basic precondition, on the basis of which it is possible to master correct speech, is the development of this system or development of language consciousness. Process of speech mastering is not simply the process of mastering of sound combinations, but process of mastering the certain phonetic structures. We perceive not separate sounds, but correlation of these sounds. If such correlation is absent, the distinction also becomes impossible. Among the preconditions of language consciousness’ development of the examined children the basic fact is absent: the correlation of separate sounds into system.

Cases of optical agnosia are well known. In spite of safe eyesight and perception of separate physical sensations the complete, integrated, semantic perception of objects of environment is impossible.

Now in modern neurology the view of perception as an integrating activity is widespread. And it is visible in sphere of acoustic perception. In the described cases takes place underdevelopment in sphere of integrating activity of acoustic perception which according to its symptoms can not be named differently, than acoustic agnosia The child in our case incorrectly speaks and writes not because he suffers from some motor defects of the speech apparatus as it was considered earlier. It seems to us that in a basis of both these defects, lays the impairment of perception of environmental speech. We tried to explain, what exactly hides behind the diffusive concept of “acoustical attention” and we believe, that to understand the alexia and agraphia it is also necessary to search for roots of these impairments at the same acoustic sphere.

Information About the Authors

Rachel M. Boskis, Doctor of Education, Doctor of Pedagogy, Scientist, Pathologist, Professor, Corresponding Member, Academy of Pedagogical Sciences, Ukraine

Rose E. Levina, Doctor of Education, Moscow, Russia



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