Omitting or collapsing syllables

Telescoping: problems with articulation

Researchers and clinicians divide problems in smooth speech into three categories: coarticulation, flow and sequencing. In this section we focus on the first one. So, what exactly is coarticulation? Coarticulation is the gradual transfer from one speech movement to the other. People who clutter usually make a lot of errors in this transfer, especially when their speech rate is too high. The most important phenomenon in overarticulation is the telescoping of syllables: people who clutter tend to omit or collapse syllables. In other words, in telescoping the number of syllables is reduced, which leads to problems in a speaker’s intelligibility. Telescoping is also called intra-verbal rushing or speeding.

Telescoping often occurs in words consisting of relatively many syllables To give an example: “pasiat” instead of “passionate”. However, it can also occur in shorter words, depending on the rate of your speech. The higher the rate, the more unintelligible one’s speech is. Collapsing or omitting syllables is a common feature in phonological cluttering. Phonological cluttering refers to a motoric defect in speech. Another example of phonological cluttering, resulting in word structure errors is: “Was’te boxosilian wine for ‘scenson huntwenfiv dollars?” (Was the box of Sicilian wines for Ascension one hundred and twenty-five dollars?).

Types of cluttering in scientific literature

Professor Damsté describes three subtypes of cluttering: dysrythmic cluttering, dysartric cluttering and dysphasic cluttering. In his scientific work Dr. David Ward proposes to use two types of cluttering instead: “linguistic cluttering”, similar to Damste’s dysphasic cluttering, and “motoric cluttering”, comparable to Damsté’s dysarthric and dysrhythmic cluttering. Van Zaalen suggests to call them “syntactic” and “phonological” cluttering. The phonological type of cluttering then is the equivalent to professor Damsté’s dysphasic cluttering. Although these researchers use different names, they all try to say the same, more or less. Phonological cluttering is about the intelligibility of speech, syntactic cluttering is about the way sentences are constructed. 

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