Date of Award

4-2014

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Speech Pathology and Audiology

First Advisor

Dr. Stephen M. Tasko

Second Advisor

Dr. Helen M. Sharp

Third Advisor

Dr. Gregory A. Flamme

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access

Abstract

Nasometry is a non-invasive tool frequently used to measure speech resonance in clinical populations. The instrument uses an acoustic recording system to derive a measure termed nasalance, which is an estimate of the relative amount of acoustic energy emitted from the nasal cavity. Nasometry protocols do not provide detailed instructions for speaking rate control during data collection. Studies attempting to establish a relationship between speaking rate and nasalance have yielded mixed results; therefore, it is important to identify the influence of speaking rate on nasalance in a variety of speaking tasks. If rate is found to influence nasalance values, protocols should be modified to minimize rate variation or report normative data stratified by speaking rate. This study examines the degree to which natural variations in speaking rate influences nasalance measures for syllable repetition and paragraph reading tasks. Participants in this study were fifty-six typical adult speakers, ranging in age from 18 to 29, who were part of a larger normative nasometry study. Participants had normal hearing and no history of cleft palate. Analysis focused on syllable repetitions and four standard paragraphs that varied in phonetic structure. Syllable repetition rates ranged from .88 to 5.56 syllables/second and paragraph speaking rates ranged from 1.79 to 5.46 syllables/second. Statistical analysis revealed that a faster speaking rate was associated with lower nasalance for oral syllables and higher nasalance for nasal syllables containing the vowel /a/, but not the vowel /i/. For paragraph reading, a faster speaking rate was associated with lower nasalance for those passages that only contain oral phonemes. These findings suggest that speaking rate can influence nasalance values and that clinical protocols for performing nasometry should control for speaking rate.

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