Asperger’s syndrome and segment deletion

In examining the speech patterns of individuals frequently around me, I’ve noticed that those who believe they have Asperger’s – or, at least, those who note that they display behavioural patterns characteristic of the disorder – tend almost never to engage in segment deletion.

Within linguistics, we recognize deletion as the process of removing a sound from one’s pronunciation of a term; this typically occurs during hurried or informal speech, and doesn’t in any way affect the word’s spelling.  It often isn’t even intentional on the part of the speaker.

For example, the word “parade” typically consists of two syllables, and may be transcribed – broadly, in General American – as such: /pəɻejd/.  Some people, however, may pronounce it as “prayed”, which can be transcribed as such: /pɻejd/.  Notice the absence of the schwa – the first vowel, denoted by the IPA symbol ə – in this transcription.  Other examples of this exist: “mathematics” /mæθəmætɪks/ becoming “mathmatics” /mæθmætɪks/, and “corrode” /kəɻowd/ becoming “crode” /kɻowd/.

I’ve never heard a person with Asperger’s integrate these deletions into his or her speech; as anecdotal a piece of evidence as that is, I’m curious as to whether this actually has some validity on a larger scale.  If so, what are the implications?  Why don’t we delete?  Some would probably suggest that in others, this is a subconscious practice undertaken to more quickly communicate – perhaps we don’t, on average, conform to typical patterns of informal speech?  Children with A.S. are, after all, often said to have peculiar vocabularies.  It might be interesting to explore this on some later occasion.

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One Response to Asperger’s syndrome and segment deletion

  1. xanthippa says:

    Fascinating!

    As an Aspie, I resent – very deeply – every ‘silent’ letter.

    Not only do I never colloquialize (?) my speech by deleting sounds ‘commonly’ skipped by some speakers, I actually actively rebel against such anarchy by, on specific days, intentionally and most emphatically pronounce every silent letter there is! (Think ‘knife’ or ‘salmon’…)

    And, yes – ‘silent letters’ is the one thing that prevents me from learning spoken French, though I am quite proficient in written ‘technical’ French in my field of expertize: I have mused on this, at length, in the past and have come to suspect (though not yet ‘conclude’) that I find it necessary to use different bits of my brain for written language than I use for spoken language…. I first came to suspect this when I was learning English and would get strong headaches when I was exposed to too much of the new language at one time – but the headaches would have a different locum when I was exposed to spoken vs. written English…

    I have long suspected that we, Aspies, tend to think there ought to be one and only one set of rules to gover linguistic communication, we thing there ‘ought to be’ to ‘united’ ‘rules of language’ – so that there is one set of instructions/rules, regardless of the medium (spoken vs. writte, formal vs. casual/colloquial).

    Yet, I have also noticed an increased ‘clumsiness’ – or, perhaps, awkwardness – and dis-unity between linguistic expression and ‘body language’ among Aspies…as in, the earlier a specific ‘language’ will have been acquired, the greater the ‘awkwardness’ and the larger the dis-unity between ‘expression’ and ‘body-language’. I suspect this has something to do with neuroplasticity and using different bits of the brain to acquire (and express) ‘language’ the older we are when we learn that specific language….

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