On Fluency: Perspectives From Aphasiology and Second Language Acquisition Research

Veronica D’Alesio, Maria Roccaforte


Fluency is a long-debated notion in linguistics, as it plays a crucial role in second language acquisition (SLA) research and applied linguistics. Starting from some recent discussions on the topic, this paper examines whether aphasiology could benefit from insights from these fields of study. First, we will summarize the most relevant views on fluency concerning aphasic speech. As we will see, every account of fluency has two common features: some reference to speech timing, and some reference to anomia. Nonetheless, fluency as a whole still remains nothing more than an intuition, since no model has implemented a satisfactory definition of it. We argue that the reason behind this decades-long uncertainty is because its two main components -time and retrieval- pertain to two distinct levels -namely speech and language- and therefore cannot be judged on the same scale. To show our point, we will briefly pass in review studies on time patterns in aphasic speech and see whether it is possible to draw a distinctive behavior compared to non-pathological speech. We will then move to anomia and see how the matter has been approached in second language research, especially in fluency modeling. While certainly not relatable on several issues, we believe that some key outcomes in linguistic fluency can be adapted to aphasia research, and offer new perspectives on aphasic speech evaluation and understanding.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/ijl.v14i2.19763

Copyright (c) 2022 Veronica D’Alesio, Maria Roccaforte

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