This study is an examination of how a word’s syntactic category, word length, and usage frequency might impact a speaker’s use of communicative pause. Previously collected between and within utterance language samples from 21 people with aphasia (Harmon, 2018) were evaluated in this study. Participants consisted of 11 individuals diagnosed with mild or very mild aphasia and 10 individuals with moderate aphasia;15 who exhibited fluent subtypes and 6 non-fluent subtypes of aphasia. Data from the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) was used to code the word frequency and syntactic category of each word in the language samples. Generally, speakers with both non-fluent and fluent aphasia produced more monosyllabic words of very high frequency with a greater percentage of function words than content words. Analyses revealed no significant correlations between the pause duration for either the word length or word frequency for either group of speakers. In relation to syntactic category, no significant differences in pause duration were found between content and function words in the between utterance condition. However, non-fluent speakers preceded content words with significantly shorter pause durations within utterances when compared with the function words. Due to differences in sample sizes between the speaker and syntactic groups, non-parametric statistics were used for some comparisons. In addition, this study does not fully account for the influence of fillers and incomplete words. Despite these limitations, this study will contribute to the research regarding communicative speech pause in speakers with aphasia and provide insight into more useful diagnostic and treatment strategies.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Communication Disorders



Date Submitted


Document Type





aphasia, pause, syntax, linguistic complexity, word length, word frequency



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