This dissertation aims at contributing to a characterization of speech disfluencies in European Portuguese Despite of the growing interest for such phenomena in recent years, both of the linguistic and of language engineering communities, and the numerous studies published for a variety of languages showing language universal and language specific regularities in their distribution, and the relevance of such regularities for models of spoken language production, as well as for the improvement of spoken language systems, very little has been done for European Portuguese. This is also a problem for language teaching purposes, as no general description is available yet to assist the teachers.
In order to contribute towards fulfilling this gap, spontaneous and prepared oral presentations by four students and their Portuguese teacher in a classroom environment were analyzed. Data concerning the relative frequency of the different disfluency types, their distribution, the way they may associate with each other and with different intonational and durational patterns is presented and compared to that observed for other languages in previous studies. Language and contextual dependent specificities are also pointed out.
Although no gender striking differences were found, there is strong evidence also supporting speaker and task dependent variation. Individual characteristics and/or strategies appear to have an important influence on the subject’s fluency judgments in the perceptive evaluation test, carried out in the scope of the present study. Nevertheless, the results of this test support the establishment of an acceptability scale of disfluency types, which is, grosso modo, in agreement with the scale emerging from the initial annotation undertaken as part of this work.
By bringing empirical evidence supporting regularities at different levels - which are crucial to a better understanding of the ‘grammar of talk’ – it is expected this study will help to eliminate old prejudices and contribute to new teaching approaches to orality in the Portuguese language classroom.