Word Familiarity, Syllabic Stress Pattern, and Stuttering The correspondence of stuttering and linguistic characteristics of utterances has led to speculations that a source factor for stutter events is a speaker’s inadequate formulation of the speech code. In this study, the effects of word frequency and syllabic stress pattern on stuttering frequency were evaluated using specially designed sentences ... Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 1994
Word Familiarity, Syllabic Stress Pattern, and Stuttering
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Carol P. Hubbard
    University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • David Prins
    University of Washington Seattle
  • Contact author: Carol P. Hubbard, PhD, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, P.O. Box 413, Milwaukee, Wl 53201. E-mail: chubbard@convex.csd.uwm.edu
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Fluency Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 1994
Word Familiarity, Syllabic Stress Pattern, and Stuttering
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 1994, Vol. 37, 564-571. doi:10.1044/jshr.3703.564
History: Received July 9, 1993 , Accepted January 11, 1994
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 1994, Vol. 37, 564-571. doi:10.1044/jshr.3703.564
History: Received July 9, 1993; Accepted January 11, 1994

The correspondence of stuttering and linguistic characteristics of utterances has led to speculations that a source factor for stutter events is a speaker’s inadequate formulation of the speech code. In this study, the effects of word frequency and syllabic stress pattern on stuttering frequency were evaluated using specially designed sentences read orally by 10 adult stutterers and 10 adult nonstutterers. Results revealed statistically significant differences in stuttering frequency between sentences with low and high frequency words, but not between sentences with regular and irregular syllabic stress patterns. The significant rank order correlation between stutterers’ word recognition vocabulary scores and amount of stuttering on sentences with high versus low frequency words affirmed that word familiarity, not simply word prominence, is an important factor contributing to the word frequency effect. The outcomes are discussed in relation to current psycholinguistic theories of stuttering, proposing that word access and phonological encoding difficulties could be a source factor that underlies the occurrence of stutter events.

Acknowledgments
The research reported represents a portion of a doctoral dissertation completed by the first author while at the University of Washington, Seattle. Special thanks to Keith Hayes, electronic engineer, and Peter Walmsley, computer programmer, at the University of Washington. This research was supported in part by a Graduate School W. W. Stout Fellowship, University of Washington. Portions of this research were presented at the annual meeting of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, November 1993, Anaheim, California.
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