Unique patterns of bilingual speech: Factors affecting disfluency rates in russian–hebrew bilingual children

Sveta Fichman, Cahtia Adelman, Carmit Altman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Bilingual children often demonstrate a high rate of disfluencies, which might impact the diagnostic evaluation of fluency disorders; however, research on the rates and types of disfluencies in bilinguals’ two languages is limited. The purpose of this research is to profile disfluencies of two types, stuttering-like disfluencies (SLDs) and other disfluencies (ODs), in the speech of Russian– Hebrew bilingual typically developing children, focusing on cross-linguistic dif-ferences and the effect of language proficiency in both languages. Method: Spontaneous narratives based on the Frog, Where Are You? (Mayer, 1969) picture book were collected in both languages from 40 bilingual Russian– Hebrew children aged 5;6–6;6 (years;months). The transcribed narratives were coded for SLD (sound, syllable, and monosyllabic word repetitions) and OD (multisyllabic word/phrase repetitions, interjections, and revisions), and their fre-quencies per 100 syllables were calculated. Results: Overall, most children had a percentage of SLD and OD below the cut-off point and within the existing criteria for stuttering diagnosis established based on monolingual data, but several children exceeded this stuttering crite-rion. Monosyllabic word repetitions (part of SLD) and interjections (part of OD) were more frequent in Hebrew than in Russian. Lower proficiency was associ-ated with a higher percentage of monosyllabic word repetitions and of interjec-tions in both languages. Conclusions: Bilingual disfluency criteria are needed, since based on the exist-ing monolingual criteria, some children might be erroneously assessed as chil-dren who stutter, thus leading to overdiagnosis. The results support the claim that proficiency is an important factor in the production of disfluencies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4896-4912
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - 11 Dec 2023

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