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The processing and evaluation of fluency in native and non-native speech

Bosker, H. R. (2014). The processing and evaluation of fluency in native and non-native speech. PhD Thesis, Utrecht University, Utrecht.
Disfluency is a common characteristic of spontaneously produced speech. Disfluencies (e.g., silent pauses, filled pauses [uh’s and uhm’s], corrections, repetitions, etc.) occur in both native and non-native speech. There appears to be an apparent contradiction between claims from the evaluative and cognitive approach to fluency. On the one hand, the evaluative approach shows that non-native disfluencies have a negative effect on listeners’ subjective fluency impressions. On the other hand, the cognitive approach reports beneficial effects of native disfluencies on cognitive processes involved in speech comprehension, such as prediction and attention. This dissertation aims to resolve this apparent contradiction by combining the evaluative and cognitive approach. The reported studies target both the evaluation (Chapters 2 and 3) and the processing of fluency (Chapters 4 and 5) in native and non-native speech. Thus, it provides an integrative account of native and non-native fluency perception, informative to both language testing practice and cognitive psycholinguists. The proposed account of fluency perception testifies to the notion that speech performance matters: communication through spoken language does not only depend on what is said, but also on how it is said and by whom.
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