Disfluency and ageing : a study of healthy older speakers of New Zealand English
Thesis DisciplineSpeech and Language Sciences
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
The current study examined 115 New Zealand English speakers aged 64-91 years to obtain normative data on fluency. Stuttering-like and normal disfluencies were analysed in speaking tasks of conversation and reading to determine the frequency of disfluencies. Variables of age, sex, years of education, and cognitive functioning were also examined to determine whether these influenced disfluencies. Results indicated no change in stuttering-like and normal disfluencies across age in conversation, yet a small significant increase was found in reading for normal disfluencies. Sex and years of education revealed no significant relationship with total disfluencies produced across age, however there was a significant relationship between cognitive scores and total disfluencies – speakers with higher cognitive scores produced less disfluencies. Age, sex, years of education, and cognitive scores were not significant predictors of stuttering-like disfluencies, though normal disfluencies were. Within the fluency literature, normative data is limited for the ageing population 60+. This study provides normative data for older New Zealand speakers and valuable additional information to assist clinicians in assessment/diagnosis of acquired communication disorders.