Dworzynski, K., Howell, P., & Natke, U. (2003) Predicting stuttering from linguistic factors for German speakers in two age groups. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 28, 95-113.

Brown’s factors predict the likely loci of dysfluency in English-speaking adults who stutter. A word is more likely to be stuttered for these speakers if it is a content word, starts with a consonant, is positioned at the beginning of a sentence, and when the word is long. These same factors were examined in German children and adults who stutter. Speech data of fifteen German adult and seventeen children were coded according to Brown’s factors. For the adult group, it was predicted that words starting with consonants would not lead to as much of an increase in dysfluencies compared with English samples, because of cross-linguistic differences in syllable onset properties. It was predicted that stuttering would be more likely in later sentence positions in German because this language places verbs late in sentences. There were no obvious reasons to expect differences on the two remaining factors, content words and word length. With children, it was hypothesised that Brown’s factors that specify level of linguistic difficulty would not be such a good predictor of stuttering rate. Specifically, it was predicted that the difference in stuttering rate between function and content words would be lower in children. For the adults both word type (content/function) and word length increased stuttering rate significantly, whereas changes in stuttering rate for the other two factors were non-significant. It was also found that when word difficulty (based on a combined measure of all factors) increased, stuttering rate rose. With children, only the word-length factor was significant and stuttering rate was not governed to the same extent by overall word difficulty. Conclusions are drawn as to the effect of linguistic and motor influences on stuttering.

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