Stuttering characteristics of German-English bilingual speakers
Thesis DisciplineSpeech and Language Therapy
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Speech and Language Therapy
To date, limited research has been reported on stuttering and bilingualism. Existing data reports conflicting results on stuttering characteristics across languages of bilingual people who stutter (PWS). Investigations to date include language acquisition, language proficiency, cultural influence, and linguistic as well as phonetic aspects in bilinguals PWS. Thus, assumptions on causal factors of stuttering are plenty, but research is missing to either support or refute those assumptions. Small sample sizes have been an additional obstacle. The purpose of this study was to analyse stuttering characteristics in German - English bilingual PWS. 15 German - English bilingual PWS, ranging in age between 10 and 59 years (mean = 25) were investigated. For all of the participants, German was acquired first (L1) and English second (L2). L2 exposure ranged from 5 to 20+ years (mean = 10). 15 minute conversational speech samples were collected in each language. In addition, an English proficiency test (Cloze Test) and a post-conversational questionnaire were administered. Analysis focused on differences in stuttering severity across languages, the distribution of stuttered content and function words across languages, and possible relationships between L2 proficiency and stuttering. Results indicated significantly more stuttering in L1 compared to L2. In L1, stuttering occurred significantly more often on content words. In L2, no significant difference between stuttering on function and content words was observed. For percentage of syllables stuttered, across language analysis detected significantly more stuttering on content words in German (L1) and more stuttering on function words in English (L2). No direct correlations between stuttering and language proficiency have been found. Results are discussed in light of current theories of stuttering and relationships to past findings are drawn.