Hearing & Speech Sciences Theses and Dissertations

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    (2023) Ogbonna, Chidinma; Bernstein Ratner, Nan; Hearing and Speech Sciences; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Parents play an important role when it comes to child language development. This study examines differences in lexical and syntactic alignment, in child-directed speech (CDS), between African American mothers and fathers from the professional- and working-class. The Hall (1984) corpus from the Child Language Data Exchange System (CHILDES; MacWhinney, 1991) was used to analyze syntactic and lexical alignment in African American professional- and working-class parent-child dyads (children aged 4;6). We investigated the proportion of overlapping nouns shared between mother-child and father-child dyads, as well as differences between parent-child syntactic complexity scores (i.e., Mean Length of Utterance-words (MLU-w), and Verbs per Utterance (Verbs/utt). Results revealed there to be no significant differences regarding lexical and syntactic alignment between the professional- and working-class families; however, fathers were found to produce a significantly higher average proportion of overlapping nouns compared to mothers.
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    (2023) Erskine, Michelle E; Edwards, Jan; Huang, Yi Ting; Hearing and Speech Sciences; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    There is a long-standing gap in literacy achievement between African American and European American students (e.g., NAEP, 2019, 2022). A large body of research has examined different factors that continue to reinforce performance differences across students. One variable that has been a long-term interest to sociolinguists and applied scientists is children’s use of different dialects in the classroom. Many African American students speak African American English (AAE), a rule-governed, but socially stigmatized, dialect of English that differs in phonology, morphosyntax, and pragmatics from General American English (GAE), the dialect of classroom instruction. Empirical research on dialect variation and literacy achievement has demonstrated that linguistic differences between dialects make it more difficult to learn to read (Buhler et al., 2018; Charity et al., 2004; Gatlin & Wanzek, 2015; Washington et al., 2018, inter alia) and recently, more difficult to comprehend spoken language (Byrd et al., 2022, Edwards et al., 2014; Erskine, 2022a; Johnson, 2005; de Villiers & Johnson, 2007; JM Terry, Hendrick, Evangelou, et al., 2010; JM Terry, Thomas, Jackson, et al., 2022). The prevailing explanation for these results has been the perceptual analysis hypothesis, a framework that asserts that linguistic differences across dialects creates challenges in mapping variable speech signals to listeners’ stored mental representations (Adank et al., 2009; Clopper, 2012; Clopper & Bradlow, 2008; Cristia et al., 2012). However, spoken language comprehension is more than perceptual analysis, requiring the integration of perceptual information with communicative intent and sociocultural information (speaker identity). To this end, it is proposed that the perceptual analysis hypothesis views dialect variation as another form of signal degradation. Simplifying dialect variation to a signal-mapping problem potentially limits our understanding of the contribution of dialect variation to spoken language comprehension. This dissertation proposes that research on spoken language comprehension should integrate frameworks that are more sensitive to the contributions of the sociocultural aspects of dialect variation, such as the role of linguistic and nonlinguistic cues that are associated with speakers of different dialects. This dissertation includes four experiments that use the visual world paradigm to explore the effects of dialect variation on spoken language comprehension among children between the ages of 3;0 to 11;11 years old (years;months) from two linguistic communities, European American speakers of GAE and African American speakers with varying degrees of exposure to AAE and GAE. Chapter 2 (Erskine [2022a]) investigates the effects of dialect variation in auditory-only contexts in two spoken word recognition tasks that vary in linguistic complexity: a) word recognition in simple phrases and b) word recognition in sentences that vary in semantic predictability. Chapter 3 [Erskine (2022b)] examine the effects of visual and auditory speaker identity cues on dialect variation on literal semantic comprehension (i.e., word recognition in semantically facilitating sentences). Lastly, Chapter 4 [Erskine (2022c)] examines the effects of visual and auditory speaker identity cues on children’s comprehension of different dialects in a task that evaluates pragmatic inferencing (i.e., scalar implicature). Each of the studies investigate the validity of the perceptual analysis against sociolinguistcally informed hypotheses that account for the integration of linguistic and nonlinguistic speaker identity cues as adequate explanations for relationships that are observed between dialect variation and spoken language comprehension. Collectively, these studies address the question of how dialect variation impacts spoken language comprehension. This dissertation provides evidence that traditional explanations that focus on perceptual costs are limited in their ability to account for correlations typically reported between spoken language comprehension and dialect use. Additionally, it shows that school-age children rapidly integrate linguistic and nonlinguistic socioindexical cues in ways that meaningfully guide their comprehension of different speakers. The implication of these findings and future research directions are also addressed within.
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    Supportive Messages Perceived and Recevied in a Therapeutic Setting
    (1994) Barr, Jeanine Rice; Freimuth, Vicki S.; Speech Communication; University of Maryland (College Park, Md); Digital Repository at the University of Maryland
    This study examines how communication of social support influences the behavioral change process in a particular environment. Specifically, the research question is: How is social support related to commitment to recovery from alcoholism/addiction? A one group pre-test/post-test research design was used with subjects in two addictions treatment centers. Questions were designed to measure changes that took place in individual's perception of supportiveness of messages received, the network support available to them, changes in uncertainty and self-esteem. Finally, how these variables predict commitment to recovery was examined. Results showed no relationship between strength of network at time 1 and the supportiveness of messages received. Strength of network support, self-esteem, and uncertainty reduction improved from time 1 to time 2. The major predictor of a patient's commitment to recovery was the level of self esteem at time 2. However, a strong correlation was found between self-esteem and strength of network at time 2.
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    The Effect Of Language Mixing on Word Retrieval in Bilingual Adults with Aphasia
    (2022) Nichols, Meghan; Faroqi-Shah, Yasmeen; Hearing and Speech Sciences; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    Lexical retrieval deficits are a common feature in aphasia, and while much research has been done on bilingual aphasia and on the processes involved in language mixing by healthy bilingual adults, it is not clear whether it may be beneficial for bilingual people with aphasia to change languages in moments of lexical retrieval or if it is more effective to continue the lexical search in one language. The primary aim of this project was to determine whether bilingual people with aphasia demonstrate global and local effects of language mixing. Grammatical categories (i.e., nouns and verbs) were examined separately, and participant- and stimulus-related factors were considered. Based on preliminary analyses of participants’ accuracy and response onset latencies, it appears that participants tended to benefit from mixing in terms of speed and accuracy and that their results may be related to their language proficiency and dominance.
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    Examining Narrative Language in Early Stage Parkinson's Disease and Intermediate Farsi-English Bilingual Speakers
    (2022) Lohrasbi, Bushra; Faroqi-Shah, Yasmeen; Hearing and Speech Sciences; Digital Repository at the University of Maryland; University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
    This study aimed to examine procedural aspects of language (grammaticality, syntactic complexity, regular past tense verb production), verb use, and the association between motor-speech, language abilities, and intelligibility in Early Stage Parkinson's Disease (PD) and Intermediate Farsi-English Bilingual Speakers (L2). Ullman’s Declarative-Procedural Model (2001) provided this study with a dual-mechanism model that justified a theoretical comparison between these two populations. Twenty-four neurologically healthy native speakers of English, twenty-three Parkinson’s Disease participants, and thirteen bilingual Farsi-English speakers completed three narrative picture description tasks and read the first three sentences of the Rainbow Passage. Language samples were transcribed and analyzed to derive measures of morphosyntax and verb use, including grammatical accuracy, grammatical complexity, and proportions of regular past tense, action verbs and light verbs. The results did not show any evidence of morphosyntactic or action verb deficit in PD. Neither was there any evidence of a trade-off between morphosyntactic performance and severity of speech motor impairment in PD. L2 speakers had lower scores on grammatical accuracy and a measure of morphosyntactic complexity, but did not differ from monolingual speakers on measures of verb use. Overall, these results show that language abilities (morphosyntax and verb use) are preserved in early stage PD. This study replicates the well-documented finding that morphosyntax is particularly challenging for late bilingual speakers. The results did not support Ullman’s Declarative-Procedural (2001) hypothesis of language production in Parkinson’s Disease or L2 speakers.