Repetitions as a Communication Strategy: A Case Study

Mirjana M. Kovac


This extensive study examines repetitions in English (L2) which are considered as indicators of speech disfluency as well as a communication strategy. The participants of this study were 101 first-year undergraduate students of technical studies who received nine years of formal instruction of English. The results revealed that the speakers tend to repeat shorter speech fragments, that is, the absolute majority of all repetitions comprised up to one syllable. Consequently, even shorter repetitions generally provide sufficient additional time for linguistic planning or retrieving a particular linguistic unit. The former conclusion refers to both L1 and L2 repetitions. However, the comparison with the results obtained for L1 in a previous study confirmed that the speakers in L2 employ considerably more repetitions compared to L1. This points to the conclusion that repetitions as a communication strategy in L2 are used in order to give the speaker the opportunity to hold the floor, namely, it prevents breakdowns in communication. Even though repetitions are considered as forms of speech disfluency, they are indeed a resource learners can use in order to engage in a conversation despite their limited language resources.

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