Sentence (or phrase) revisions belong to the so-called normal disfluencies; they occur in everybody’s speech. However, if that happens too often it may have a disturbing effect on communication. The same is true for cluttering: sentence revisions are a common characteristic in cluttering. Examples are: ”I cycled, uh … walked home.” Or: “Then we went back to New Y … um, oh no, we went to Boston first and had a cup of coffee there… no, we shopped. I think. Hmm… maybe it is the other way around”.
Like repetitions, phrase revisions are symptoms of syntactic cluttering, or “dysphasic cluttering”. They lead to errors in a sentence’s structure. Ironically, research tells us that people who clutter use phrase revisions and repetitions in order to construct a correct sentence structure. In other words, they use word or phrase repetitions to extend the editing phase and gain more time. People who clutter often feel they have too little time for expressing their thoughts.
Clinical observations support the assumption that people who clutter are able to produce correct sentence structure in writing. The difference with speaking is that, when writing, people (who clutter) have much more time. Time, therefore, is essential for clutterers.
Want to know more about cluttering symptoms? Order our book Too fast for words.