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Text & Talk

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse & Communication Studies

Ed. by Sarangi, Srikant

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Volume 33, Issue 4-5


Clause complex manifestation in depression

Revital Nagar / Jonathan Fine
Published Online: 2013-08-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2013-0027


In this paper we investigate whether the semantic development of text in free discursive writing distinguishes currently depressed, formerly depressed, and never depressed writers. Theoretically motivated linguistic categories of elaboration (restating, exemplifying), extension (adding, contrasting), and enhancement (qualifying with specific details) were used to code the semantic transitions in essays of 25 currently depressed, 24 formerly depressed, and 28 never depressed individuals diagnosed by Beck Depression Inventory (BDI, current symptoms of depression) and the Inventory to Diagnose Depression (IDD-L, lifetime depression). The currently depressed used more elaboration and extension and less enhancement. The severity of both current and lifetime depression is correlated positively with elaboration and extension and negatively with enhancement. The difficulty in concentrating and the self-focus in depression are associated with more elaborations, more extensions, and fewer enhancements. Writers with depression add less “color” that enriches their texts with details. Both mood state and cognitive processing are tracked in written language.

Keywords: depression; clause complex; writing; expansion; elaboration; extension; enhancement

About the article

Revital Nagar

Revital Nagar, PhD, is Lecturer in the English Foreign Language Department at Bar-Ilan University, Israel. Her current interests include reading disabilities and the language of psychiatric disorders. Address for correspondence: English Department, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel 〈 〉.

Jonathan Fine

Jonathan Fine received his PhD in linguistics from Cornell University. He is Professor of English at Bar-Ilan University. He does research on the language of psychiatric disorders including particularly psychosis and the autistic spectrum. His book Language in Psychiatry: A Handbook for Clinical Practice was published in 2006 (London: Equinox). Address for correspondence: English Department, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel 〈 〉.

Published Online: 2013-08-27

Published in Print: 2013-08-19

Citation Information: Text & Talk, Volume 33, Issue 4-5, Pages 595–615, ISSN (Online) 1860-7349, ISSN (Print) 1860-7330, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2013-0027.

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©[2013] by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston.Get Permission

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