Relationship between segmental speech errors and intelligibility in speakers with acquired dysarthria

TitleRelationship between segmental speech errors and intelligibility in speakers with acquired dysarthria
Publication TypePresentation
Year of Publication2017
Conference NameDag van de Fonetiek 2017
AuthorsMiller, Naomi, Peter Mariën, and Jo Verhoeven
PublisherNederlandse Vereniging voor Fonetische Wetenschappen
Conference LocationAmsterdam, The Netherlands

The standard approach to dysarthria assessment involves rating 38 perceptual dimensions of speech on a 7- point severity scale (Darley, 1969). The drawbacks of this method are that it (a) reduces the wide range of pronunciation errors to one perceptual dimension (“articulatory imprecision”) and (b) presupposes that the most “severe” speech errors are the greatest barrier to intelligibility.

This study aimed to identify prototypical pronunciation errors in Belgian Dutch speakers with dysarthria and to examine the relationship between segmental speech errors and intelligibility in spontaneous speech. Participants included speakers with acquired dysarthria due to stroke or cerebellar disease (n = 11) and age- matched controls (n = 10). A novel intelligibility test was devised consisting of 120 monosyllabic targets and perceptual errors were identified via an orthographic transcription task. Spontaneous speech was analysed using a listening paradigm that generates quantitative measures of intelligibility (Lagerberg et al., 2014). Common consonant errors included devoicing, fronting and cluster formation. The most common vowel distortions were increased height (kent → kind) and reduced duration (staart → start). Segmental speech errors are discussed with respect to articulatory complexity and functional load. There was only a weak correlation between single-word intelligibility and intelligibility in spontaneous speech.


  • Darley, F.L., Aronson, A. and Brown, J., 1969. Differential diagnostic patterns of dysarthria. J. Speech. Lang. Hear. Res. 12, 246-269.
  • Lagerberg, T.B., Asberg, J., Hartelius, L. and Persson, C. 2014. Assessment of intelligibility using children’s spontaneous speech: methodological aspects. Int. J. Lang. Commun. Disord. 49(2), 228-239.