locked language analogies

More Aphasia Analogies

Several months ago, we talked about aphasia analogies with another book. We compared aphasia to a damaged computer keyboard, visiting a foreign country, and being in a prison

Lauren Marks offers several more analogies in her new book, A Stitch of Time.

Language is Like a Horse Race

Marks explores the relationship between speaking, reading, and writing. They all use words, though people experiencing aphasia may find that one or more of these tasks are harder than the others. Marks writes about a conversation with her speech therapist,

Speaking, reading, and writing are related to one another, but they aren’t the same thing, she explained. Language is a bit like a horse race. Any one of these capacities can leap ahead of the others for a bit (p. 77).

Do you find in your own experience that one task — speaking, reading, or writing — is consistently harder than the others? Or does your progress move more like a horse race, with one leaping ahead while others fall behind?

Circumlocution is Like Trying to Get into a Locked House

Marks also draws an analogy between trying to find a missing word and locking yourself out of your house on page 78:

When you can’t find a word, it’s like you are locked out of your own house. You check the windows to see if any of them are open. They aren’t. You check the side doors to see if they were left ajar. But they are sealed shut. So you go under your house, squeezing through a crawl space, hoping to access the cellar that way. Since you can’t go to the front of your language, you circumlocate.

It’s a great analogy because it takes a common experience — getting locked out of your house — and turns it into a metaphor for getting locked out of language.

What are other ways you explain the loss of language?

Image: Sarah Joy vis Flickr via creative commons licence



  • Maria Ana Fabrega
    July 27, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    Like describing a pretty dress like when we were girls in high school except your mind doesn’t have a way to describe it it doesn’t have the words.

  • Louisa
    July 31, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    Saying what your brain thinks, not what you meant. “Syrup” should have meant “wine”. “Antidote” should have meant “fix”. “Allocated” should have meant “together”. So many wrong words 😢

  • Colette Sutter
    September 7, 2019 at 11:32 am

    My brother is in his 4th year of dealing with PPA. He is the patient. He no longer speaks and sometimes gets aggressive which is why my sister in law has placed him in Memory Care as she is unable to care for him at home. He’s been kicked out of 1 Nursing home due to perceived aggression and has been placed in a psychiatric ward, temporarily! Once the medication has been adjusted he will go to a better equipped Nursing Home. My sister in law is so sad most if the time but I try to split my time with both my brother and his wife. My brother is 62 and was a Polymer Chemist at NASA for 30 years. He was the Senior Polymer Chemist. He and his team developed the polymer coating on the Mars Rover to withstand all changes in the atmosphere and such. He is highly intelligent but now he doesn’t utter a sound. We communicate through our eyes and I never treat him as if he were a child. That is the difference in my experiences with him vs my SIL’s experiences. I agree it is so very sad but I always greet him with a smile and maintain a happy attitude when I’m with him and I really believe it makes a huge difference in his demeanor. Granted much if him has been lost but part of him is still in there and it’s that part, I’ve been able to connect with. None of this is to say I don’t get sad but I do that on my own. Bottom line he is going to die from this but he will do so with some level of dignity if it kills me and even if you have to fake happiness, doesn’t everyone prefer happiness over sadness?

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