Phonological Neighborhood and Word Frequency Effects in the Stuttered Disfluencies of Children Who Stutter

Anderson, Julie D.
February 2007
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Feb2007, Vol. 50 Issue 1, p229
Academic Journal
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine (a) the role of neighborhood density (number of words that are phonologically similar to a target word) and frequency variables on the stuttering-like disfluencies of preschool children who stutter, and (b) whether these variables have an effect on the type of stuttering-like disfluency produced. Method: A 500+ word speech sample was obtained from each participant (N = 15). Each stuttered word was randomly paired with the firstly produced word that closely matched it in grammatical class, familiarity, and number of syllables/phonemes. Frequency, neighborhood density, and neighborhood frequency values were obtained for the stuttered and fluent words from an online database. Results: Findings revealed that stuttered words were lower in frequency and neighborhood frequency than fluent words. Words containing part-word repetitions and sound prolongations were also lower in frequency and/or neighborhood frequency than fluent words, but these frequency variables did not have an effect on single-syllable word repetitions. Neighborhood density failed to influence the susceptibility of words to stuttering, as well as the type of stuttering-like disfluency produced. Conclusions: In general, findings suggest that neighborhood and frequency variables not only influence the fluency with which words are produced in speech, but also have an impact on the type of stuttering-like disfluency produced.


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