No AccessJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing ResearchResearch Article15 Sep 2020

The Effects of Word Frequency and Word Probability on Speech Rhythm in Dysarthria


    In healthy speakers, the more frequent and probable a word is in its context, the shorter the word tends to be. This study investigated whether these probabilistic effects were similarly sized for speakers with dysarthria of different severities.


    Fifty-six speakers of New Zealand English (42 speakers with dysarthria and 14 healthy speakers) were recorded reading the Grandfather Passage. Measurements of word duration, frequency, and transitional word probability were taken.


    As hypothesized, words with a higher frequency and probability tended to be shorter in duration. There was also a significant interaction between word frequency and speech severity. This indicated that the more severe the dysarthria, the smaller the effects of word frequency on speakers' word durations. Transitional word probability also interacted with speech severity, but did not account for significant unique variance in the full model.


    These results suggest that, as the severity of dysarthria increases, the duration of words is less affected by probabilistic variables. These findings may be due to reductions in the control and execution of muscle movement exhibited by speakers with dysarthria.


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