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.