Phonotactic Probability Effects in Children Who Stutter
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of phonotactic probability, which is the frequency of different sound segments and segment sequences, on the overall fluency with which words are produced by preschool children who stutter (CWS) as well as to determine whether it has an effect on the type of stuttered disfluency produced.
Method: A 500+ word language sample was obtained from 19 CWS. Each stuttered word was randomly paired with a fluently produced word that closely matched it in grammatical class, word length, familiarity, word and neighborhood frequency, and neighborhood density. Phonotactic probability values were obtained for the stuttered and fluent words from an online database.
Results: Phonotactic probability did not have a significant influence on the overall susceptibility of words to stuttering, but it did impact the type of stuttered disfluency produced. In specific, single-syllable word repetitions were significantly lower in phonotactic probability than fluently produced words, part-word repetitions, and sound prolongations.
Conclusions: In general, the differential impact of phonotactic probability on the type of stuttering-like disfluency produced by young CWS provides some support for the notion that different disfluency types may originate in the disruption of different levels of processing.