Exchange of Stuttering From Function Words to Content Words With Age Dysfluencies on function words in the speech of people who stutter mainly occur when function words precede, rather than follow, content words (Au-Yeung, Howell, & Pilgrim, 1998). It is hypothesized that such function word dysfluencies occur when the plan for the subsequent content word is not ready for execution. Repetition ... Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 1999
Exchange of Stuttering From Function Words to Content Words With Age
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Peter Howell
    University College London
  • James Au-Yeung
    University College London
  • Stevie Sackin
    University College London
  • Contact author: Peter Howell, Department of Psychology, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT.
    Contact author: Peter Howell, Department of Psychology, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT.×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Fluency Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 1999
Exchange of Stuttering From Function Words to Content Words With Age
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 1999, Vol. 42, 345-354. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4202.345
History: Received July 14, 1998 , Accepted October 26, 1998
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 1999, Vol. 42, 345-354. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4202.345
History: Received July 14, 1998; Accepted October 26, 1998

Dysfluencies on function words in the speech of people who stutter mainly occur when function words precede, rather than follow, content words (Au-Yeung, Howell, & Pilgrim, 1998). It is hypothesized that such function word dysfluencies occur when the plan for the subsequent content word is not ready for execution. Repetition and hesitation on the function words buys time to complete the plan for the content word. Stuttering arises when speakers abandon the use of this delaying strategy and carry on, attempting production of the subsequent, partly prepared content word. To test these hypotheses, the relationship between dysfluency on function and content words was investigated in the spontaneous speech of 51 people who stutter and 68 people who do not stutter. These participants were subdivided into the following age groups: 2–6-year-olds, 7–9-year-olds, 10–12-year-olds, teenagers (13–18 years), and adults (20–40 years). Very few dysfluencies occurred for either fluency group on function words that occupied a position after a content word. For both fluency groups, dysfluency within each phonological word occurred predominantly on either the function word preceding the content word or on the content word itself, but not both. Fluent speakers had a higher percentage of dysfluency on initial function words than content words. Whether dysfluency occurred on initial function words or content words changed over age groups for speakers who stutter. For the 2–6-year-old speakers that stutter, there was a higher percentage of dysfluencies on initial function words than content words. In subsequent age groups, dysfluency decreased on function words and increased on content words. These data are interpreted as suggesting that fluent speakers use repetition of function words to delay production of the subsequent content words, whereas people who stutter carry on and attempt a content word on the basis of an incomplete plan.

Acknowledgment
This research was supported by a grant from the Wellcome Trust.
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