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Phonological Complexity and Speech Disfluency in Young Children

Eldridge, Kevin Anthony (2007) Phonological Complexity and Speech Disfluency in Young Children. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Recent theories suggest that speech disfluencies result from a disruption in the time-dependent processes of phonological and phonetic encoding (Howell & Au-Yeung, 2002; Karniol, 1995; Perkins, Kent, & Curlee, 1991; Postma & Kolk, 1993; Wingate, 1988). The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between phonological complexity and disfluencies in the speech of preschool-age children. It was predicted that speech disfluencies would be more likely to occur in utterances with a higher degree of phonological complexity than in utterances with a lower degree of phonological complexity. Participants in this study were 12 monolingual English-speaking preschool-age children who stutter. Other than the diagnosis of stuttering, all 12 children exhibited normal speech, language, and hearing function. Each child was videotaped with a parent or guardian while engaged in a 30 minute free-play conversational interaction. Each of the participant's utterances was examined to identify the presence of speech disfluencies. The presence of word-initial late-emerging consonants and consonant strings (LECi/CSi; Howell, Au-Yeung, & Sackin, 2000; Shriberg, 1993; Throneburg, Yairi, & Paden, 1994) and the Index of Phonetic Complexity (IPC; Jakielski, 2000) were utilized as metrics to identify a relationship between speech disfluencies and phonological complexity.Logistic regression was employed to determine the relationship between phonological complexity and disfluency for each child individually and to determine if a similar relationship existed for the group as a whole. While the results of initial analyses suggested that an utterance with a higher phonological complexity score was more likely to be disfluent than an utterance with a lower phonological complexity score, post-hoc analyses did not support this initial conclusion. The results of post-hoc analyses suggested that the initial results were confounded by the effect of utterance length. The best fit to the logistic regression model was achieved by utterance length (in number of words). The addition of phonological complexity did not add significantly to the regression model.The results of this study do not offer support to the contention that speech disfluency in young children is influenced by the phonological complexity of the utterance being produced (Howell et al., 2000; Weiss & Jakielski, 2001).


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Eldridge, Kevin
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairYaruss, J Scottjsyaruss@csd.pitt.eduJSYARUSS
Committee MemberDollaghan,
Committee MemberJakielski,
Committee MemberCampbell,
Date: 30 January 2007
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 10 April 2006
Approval Date: 30 January 2007
Submission Date: 28 March 2006
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Communication Science and Disorders
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: disfluency; stuttering; phonological complexity; children
Other ID:, etd-03282006-212542
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:33
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:37


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