Personal narratives after stoke: stories from bilingual Greek-English immigrants living in South Australia
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Narratives are intricately intertwined with quality of life, culture, and social participation. This paper reports stories told by bilingual people describing the events or consequences of a stroke on their lives. Six immigrant participants (mean age 70 years) who were less than four years post-stroke spontaneously produced a narrative recounting their personal experience of having a stroke in their native language (Greek) and in their second language (English). Stories from the two languages were taken at least ten days apart. All participants had learned English in early adulthood upon migration from Greece to Australia, and not through formal teaching but informally, in the community. This group of immigrants had lived in Australia on average for 46 years. Narratives in the two languages underwent quantitative (length, number of propositions) and qualitative analyses (ratings of coherence, ratings of clarity). Most individuals produced coherent “tellable” stories despite disruptions in language because of stroke-related language deficits or aphasia. Overall, stories were better told (length, complexity of content, temporal-causal sequencing, reference) in Greek — their native language. The results have implications for policy-makers providing health and welfare services to ageing immigrant populations. The findings are also relevant to other countries that have large immigrant populations of stroke survivors.
© 2019 the author.