Descriptive discourse: topic familiarity and disfluencies

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of Communication Disorders, Volume 37, p.489-503 (2004)




Descriptive discourse, disfluency, Fluency, Topic familiarity


This investigation was undertaken to address questions about topic familiarity and disfluencies during oral descriptive discourse of adult speakers. Participants expressed more attributes when the topic was familiar than when it was unfamiliar. Fillers and lexical pauses were the most frequent disfluencies. The mean duration of each hesitation pause was 776 ms. The sum of hesitation pause durations was well correlated with the number of occurrences. Repetitions, hesitation pauses, and prolongations were shown to have the same role, which was distinct from the role of fillers. The type of analysis conducted in this investigation may be useful in distinguishing between normal and disordered speech production. Learning outcomes: The reader will obtain information about the differences between the number of propositions in familiar and unfamiliar oral descriptions. The reader will also become aware of the distribution of disfluencies in discourse categories employed by the participants in this investigation.