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BioMed Research International
Volume 2016, Article ID 7249848, 14 pages
Research Article

Linguistic Factors Influencing Speech Audiometric Assessment

1Language and Hearing Center Amsterdam, Free University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands
2The Eargroup, Antwerp, Belgium
3Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

Received 23 March 2016; Revised 9 June 2016; Accepted 11 August 2016

Academic Editor: Claus-Peter Richter

Copyright © 2016 Martine Coene et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In speech audiometric testing, hearing performance is typically measured by calculating the number of correct repetitions of a speech stimulus. We investigate to what extent the repetition accuracy of Dutch speech stimuli presented against a background noise is influenced by nonauditory processes. We show that variation in verbal repetition accuracy is partially explained by morpholexical and syntactic features of the target language. Verbs, prepositions, conjunctions, determiners, and pronouns yield significantly lower correct repetitions than nouns, adjectives, or adverbs. The reduced repetition performance for verbs and function words is probably best explained by the similarities in the perceptual nature of verbal morphology and function words in Dutch. For sentences, an overall negative effect of syntactic complexity on speech repetition accuracy was found. The lowest number of correct repetitions was obtained with passive sentences, reflecting the cognitive cost of processing a noncanonical sentence structure. Taken together, these findings may have important implications for the audiological practice. In combination with hearing loss, linguistic complexity may increase the cognitive demands to process sentences in noise, leading to suboptimal functional hearing in day-to-day listening situations. Using test sentences with varying degrees of syntactic complexity may therefore provide useful information to measure functional hearing benefits.