Rhythmic speech and stuttering reduction in a syllable-timed language
- Publication Type:
- Journal Article
- Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics, 2018, 32 (10), pp. 932 - 949
- Issue Date:
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© 2018, © 2018 Taylor & Francis. Speaking rhythmically, also known as syllable-timed speech (STS), has been known for centuries to be a fluency-inducing condition for people who stutter. Cantonese is a tonal syllable-timed language and it has been shown that, of all languages, Cantonese is the most rhythmic (Mok, 2009). However, it is not known if STS reduces stuttering in Cantonese as it does in English. This is the first study to investigate the effects of STS on stuttering in a syllable-timed language. Nineteen native Cantonese-speaking adults who stutter were engaged in conversational tasks in Cantonese under two conditions: one in their usual speaking style and one using STS. The speakers’ percentage syllables stuttered (%SS) and speech rhythmicity were rated. The rhythmicity ratings were used to estimate the extent to which speakers were using STS in the syllable-timed condition. Results revealed a statistically significant reduction in %SS in the STS condition; however, this reduction was not as large as in previous studies in other languages and the amount of stuttering reduction varied across speakers. The rhythmicity ratings showed that some speakers were perceived to be speaking more rhythmically than others and that the perceived rhythmicity correlated positively with reductions in stuttering. The findings were unexpected, as it was anticipated that speakers of a highly rhythmic language such as Cantonese would find STS easy to use and that the consequent reductions in stuttering would be great, even greater perhaps than in a stress-timed language such as English. The theoretical and clinical implications of the findings are discussed.
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