Stuttering and bilingualism

Published on August 29, 2019   30 min

Other Talks in the Series: Speech Dysfluency

Thank you all so much for taking the time to listen to this talk today. My name is Courtney Byrd. I am a Professor and an Associate Chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Texas at Austin. I'm also the founding Director of the Endowed Michael and Tami Lang Stuttering Institute and the principal investigator of the endowed Jennifer and Emmanuel Bodner of Developmental Stuttering Laboratory. Today, I'm going to be talking to you about a topic that has continued to intrigue me: the manifestation of stuttering in people who speak more than one language.
As we begin to take this journey in terms of how we look at the differences and disfluencies that are spoken by people who speak more than one language versus those who speak only one, we must first think about what distinguishes the monolingual speaker from the bilingual speaker. Bilingual speakers have functional knowledge of more than one language.
What's exciting about people who speak more than one language is that they do present a unique case for us in terms of exploring how the motor and linguistic demands compromise the person's ability to maintain speech fluency. We also need to take into account that for the bilingual speaker, they're not simply two monolingual speakers in one. That is, they don't know each language to the same degree and they can't speak each language to the same degree even if they're balanced. Rather, we have to consider that the bilingual speaker is experiencing their language knowledge spread across two or perhaps in the case of multilingual speakers, more than two languages.