Cluttering: repetitions

Every speaker repeats words from time to time, even the most experienced or talented orators. That is why we call a repetition a normal (typical) disfluency. However, too many typical disfluencies disturbs your communication. In cluttering, repetitions – like those of syllables, words or group of words – may frequently occur. These are symptoms of syntactic cluttering. The repetitions differ from those in stuttering because they come out in a relaxed manner. Typical for stuttering speakers is that they get stuck in words or sounds. Like in: “A-A-Apple”. Such tense sound repetitions are therefore called stuttering-like disfluencies.

Types of repetitions

Everyone uses repetitions in his speech. Sometimes people use repetitions in their speech deliberately. For example to stress a certain piece of information. That way they try to make the message more convincing or meaningful to the listener. “Let it snow, let it snow” is a good example of that. In this case it makes someone feel even more engaged with the subject. Cluttering speakers do not produce repetitions for the above mentioned reasons. In fact, they use these repetitions to gain more time. There are different kinds of repetitions in cluttering. People who clutter (or stutter) may, for example, repeat:

  • Phrase repetitions: repetition of a group of words.
    • Example: “Who is … who is that man?”
  • Single whole word repetitions. This is when you repeat a single word.
    • Example: “Who … who is that man?”
  • Repetition of single sounds
    • Example: “sh-sh-shave”
  • Repetitions of syllables
    • Example: “spea-spea-speaker”

We know from research that people who clutter use many more repetitions than people who stutter. Results also show that there are differences between the two groups of speakers (stutterers and clutterers) in the types of word repetitions as well as in their duration. We therefore encourage speech-language pathologist to not only analyse the frequency of repetitions in cluttering but also the nature of these disfluencies.

Want to learn more about the characteristics of cluttering? Read all about it in the book Too Fast for Words.