Types of cluttering

Some people may think that every clutterer is the same, but that is not the case. Each person who clutters has its own unique characteristics, both in their speech and outside of that. It depends on the combination of symptoms what type of cluttering they exhibit. Researchers roughly divide the affliction into two types of cluttering; syntactic and phonological cluttering. What do they mean?

Syntactic cluttering

Symptoms like sentence revisions, filler words and repetitions damage the structure of your sentences. They overturn the logic of your story, so that the listeners can not easily follow the cluttering speaker’s message. Therefore, these symptoms belong to what is known as syntactic cluttering, that comes from ”syntaxis”, the structure of sentences. They impact the fluency of your speech. This is different from phonological cluttering. It is important to recognize that there are more ways of cluttering.

Phonological cluttering

Symptoms like collapsing or omitting syllables, poor articulation or misspeaking (errors in word structure) damage the structure of words. They therefore have consequences for the intelligibility of someone’s speech. This is also called phonological cluttering.

Both types of cluttering may occur within the same person, but they require different techniques.

Types of cluttering in scientific literature

The exact names of the different types of cluttering can vary. In the eighties professor Damsté describes three subtypes of cluttering. Later on other researchers came up with different names for it. For example, David Ward likes to use two categories, called “linguistic cluttering” and “motoric cluttering”. Van Zaalen proposes to label them “syntactic” and “phonological” cluttering. Whatever version you choose, they pretty much all boil down to the same thing; problems in intelligibility or fluency in one’s speech.

Doing the self-test and reading other articles can help you in determining what type of clutterer you may be. However, we always advice to get a thorough diagnosis by a speech-language pathologist. Of course, you can always ask for our help as well.