Phonological Neighborhood and Word Frequency Effects in the Stuttered Disfluencies of Children Who Stutter 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 ... Research Article
Research Article  |   February 2007
Phonological Neighborhood and Word Frequency Effects in the Stuttered Disfluencies of Children Who Stutter
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Julie D. Anderson
    Indiana University Bloomington
  • Contact author: Julie D. Anderson, Department of Speech and Hearing Science, Indiana University Bloomington, 200 South Jordan Avenue, Bloomington, IN 47405-7002. E-mail: judander@indiana.edu.
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Fluency Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   February 2007
Phonological Neighborhood and Word Frequency Effects in the Stuttered Disfluencies of Children Who Stutter
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2007, Vol. 50, 229-247. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/018)
History: Received June 25, 2005 , Revised January 8, 2006 , Accepted June 12, 2006
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2007, Vol. 50, 229-247. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/018)
History: Received June 25, 2005; Revised January 8, 2006; Accepted June 12, 2006

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.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by a National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant DC006805 to Indiana University. I thank the parents and children who participated in this study, as well as Andrea Linton, Christie Merten, and Tamar Pundys for their help with data collection and reliability. I also thank Judy Gierut for her insightful reviews of previous versions of this article, as well as Michael Vitevitch for providing me with additional neighborhood values. A portion of this research was presented at the Annual Convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Philadelphia, PA, November 2004.
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