Cluttering: speech rate calculation

People who clutter often show a too high speech rate. Your can easily calculate your cluttering speech rate yourself, for example in syllables per second:

  • Select five fragments consisting of ten to twenty syllables of fluent speech from a recording (your pace of speaking cannot be determined from non-fluent speech fragments).
  • For each fragment count the exact number of syllables.
  • Divide the number of syllables by the number of seconds the fragment takes.
  • Take the average of the five numbers that result from this.

A recording of 2 to 3 minutes usually is sufficient. However, be aware of the following: it is best to use a recording that contains your spontaneous speech. If you pay attention to the pace at which you are speaking, your speech rate automatically goes down, which does not give a true representation of the way you talk. There are norms for what is considered a normal speech rate. Also, there are norms for the variation in your speech rate.

Watch the videos on this page to learn more.

Variation

Another indicator is the variation within your speech rate. You can easily calculate this variation yourself, too.

  • Go back to the 5 fragments with which you (just) determined your speech rate
  • Determine the fragment with the highest and the lowest rate
  • Calculate the difference (in syllables per second) between these 2 fragments

The variation should not exceed 3.3 syllables per second. If the score is higher, this may be an indicator of you cluttering.

Norms for speech rate

Once you’ve made your speech rate calculation, you’ll want to know how the outcome matches what is considered “normal” or average. Norms for this differ for adults, adolescents (ages around 10-20 years) and children.

  • Adults: 2.5 – 5.3 syllables per second
  • Adolescents: 2.5 – 5.5 syllables per second
  • Children: 2.5 – 5.0 syllables per second

Scores above 5.3 syllables per second may indicate the existence of cluttering. However, this is not the only possible indicator of cluttering; there are much more. Always keep in mind that a speech-language therapist can help you determine whether you clutter or not. Take the self-test to get a first impression.