Measuring Syntactic Complexity in Spontaneous Spoken Swedish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Hesitation disfluencies after phonetically prominent stranded function words are thought to reflect the cognitive coding of complex structures. Speech fragments following the Swedish function word att ‘that’ were analyzed syntactically, and divided into two groups: one with att in disfluent contexts, and the other with att in fluent contexts. Complexity was calculated in terms of a number of measures related to syntactic tree structures produced by the analysis tool GRAMMAL. Results showed that disfluent att is in general associated with significantly higher mean complexity values than fluent att. This information can be used to predict whether the function word at the beginning of a fragment is likely to be disfluent or not. Two kinds of statistical classification algorithms (Bayesian and neural networks) were used to test this hypothesis. The best result was 71% correctly classified cases, which is significantly better than a system that is based on selecting the data’s majority class.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics


  • hesitation disfluency, Syntactic complexity, function words, spontaneous speech
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-245
JournalLanguage and Speech
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Linguistics and Phonetics (015010003)

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