Prof. Jonathan Fine is a Professor at the Faculty of Humanities in the Department of English, and Head of the Graduate program in Linguistics in Clinical Research. Fine and his team study systemic functional linguistics, with a focus on the functions of language in actual situations.
They conduct research in areas such as intonation, cohesion, and discourse analysis. They focus of their research is on the language of psychiatric syndromes, and their goal is to describe the language of syndromes while simultaneously providing the detail that in part defines the syndromes.
The psychiatric syndromes they work on include autistic spectrum disorder, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, and Tourette’s syndrome. Fine and his group conduct detailed qualitative and quantitative analyses of speech and research the effects of medication treatment on their language.
Fine and his team study the flow of language that is impaired in schizophrenia, including topic switching and cohesion.
They also research the language of schizophrenic individuals who are bilingual.
Fine and his team have used systemic functional theory to investigate cohesion in schizophrenia, as well as the confluence of semantic and syntactic impairments on an utterance-by-utterance basis.
Some of their research focuses on comparing the different kinds of language used by a single individual with schizophrenia, whereas other studies examine language differences between speakers with schizophrenia and speakers with mania or unaffected speakers.
Studies conducted by Fine and his group on individuals with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) focus on intonation, topic switching, cohesion, and contributions to conversation in turn-taking structures. One of the goals of their work is to understand and describe the lack of social reciprocity in ASD.
For example, their research has shown that there are functional impairments in language in high functioning individuals with ASD or Asperger’s Syndrome, even though it has been widely assumed that such speakers do not have language impairments. In addition, some of the work conducted by Fine and his team has led to a tentative scale of language atypicalities in the autistic spectrum.
In another project, Fine and his group research the genre of social science research articles. They have carefully examined the genre structure of research articles to show the generic structure elements and their realizations in different parts of social science research texts.
Fine and his team have laid out the grammatical and lexical realization of the genre structure elements in detail.
Fine and his team continue to investigate the unique language of individuals with psychiatric disorders. Future research topics include the specification of impulsivity hyperactivity, inattention in ADHD, and topic switching in schizophrenia as representing the disorganized language in schizophrenia.
Their long term goals are to examine understanding (or lack of it) as encoded in language, across individuals and groups including those with atypical physical and mental abilities.