Functional Spontaneous Speech Phenomena The word fluency is used in a variety of settings, including stuttering research, spontaneous speech research of non-stutterers, bilingual research, and in the domain of public speaking. Although many would agree that some language productions are fluent (e.g., a political leader’s inaugural address) and others are not (e.g., the ... Article
Article  |   August 01, 2007
Functional Spontaneous Speech Phenomena
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Jean E. Fox Tree
    University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA
Article Information
Fluency Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Articles
Article   |   August 01, 2007
Functional Spontaneous Speech Phenomena
SIG 4 Perspectives on Fluency and Fluency Disorders, August 2007, Vol. 17, 17-20. doi:10.1044/ffd17.2.17
SIG 4 Perspectives on Fluency and Fluency Disorders, August 2007, Vol. 17, 17-20. doi:10.1044/ffd17.2.17
The word fluency is used in a variety of settings, including stuttering research, spontaneous speech research of non-stutterers, bilingual research, and in the domain of public speaking. Although many would agree that some language productions are fluent (e.g., a political leader’s inaugural address) and others are not (e.g., the speech of someone who stutters or someone who has trouble translating between languages), pinpointing one type of talk as fluent and another as not can be challenging.
For example, people with Wernicke’s aphasia, who produce properly formed sentences with appropriate melody and no disruptive pauses, are considered fluent, while people with Broca’s aphasia, who produce meaningful statements but in a telegraphic start-and-stop style rife with long pauses, are considered disfluent (Carroll, 2004). Auctioneers and sportscasters who use stock phrases to fill gaps in speech are also considered fluent, because they maintain a continuous speech stream (Kuiper, 1996). In these literatures, fluency has nothing to do with the meaning conveyed or ease of understanding; the messages of people with Wernicke’s aphasia are often incomprehensible, and rapid auctioneers can be indecipherable to unfamiliar listeners. On the other hand, the meaning conveyed by the speaker is central to the concept of fluency in the bilingual research literature (e.g., Demie & Strand, 2006; Grosjean, 1998).
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