Stilted speech

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In psychiatry, stilted speech or pedantic speech[1] is communication characterized by situationally inappropriate formality.[2] This formality can be expressed both through abnormal prosody[3] as well as speech content that is "inappropriately pompous, legalistic, philosophical, or quaint".[4] Often, such speech can act as evidence for autism spectrum disorder (ASD)[3] or a thought disorder,[5] a common symptom in schizophrenia[6] or schizoid personality disorder.[7]

To diagnose stilted speech, researchers have previously looked for the following characteristics:[8]

  • speech conveying more information than necessary
  • vocabulary and grammar expected from formal writing rather than conversational speech
  • unneeded repetition or corrections

While literal and long-winded word content is often the most identifiable feature of stilted speech, such speech often displays irregular prosody, especially in resonance.[8] Often, the loudness, pitch, rate, and nasality of pedantic speech vary from normal speech, resulting in the perception of pedantic or stilted speaking. For example, overly loud or high-pitched speech can come across to listeners as overly forceful while slow or nasal speech creates an impression of condescension.[9]

These attributions, which are commonly found in patients with ASD,[9] partially account for why stilted speech has been considered a diagnostic criterion for the disorder.[8] Stilted speech, along with atypical intonation, semantic drift, terseness, and perseveration, are all known deficits with adolescents on the autistic spectrum.[10] Often, stilted speech found in children with ASD will also be especially stereotypic or in some cases even rehearsed.[10]

Patients with schizophrenia are also known to experience stilted speech. This symptom is attributed to both an inability to access more commonly used words and a difficulty understanding pragmatics—the relationship between language and context.[11] However, stilted speech appears as a less common symptom compared to a certain number of other symptoms of the psychosis (Adler et al 1999).[12] This element of cognitive disorder is also exhibited as a symptom in the narcissistic personality disorder (Akhtar & Thomson 1982).[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ McKenna P.J., Oh T.M. (2012.) Schizophrenic Speech: Making Sense of Bathroots and Ponds that Fall in Doorways, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-00905-8
  2. ^ Encyclopedia of autism spectrum disorders. Volkmar, Fred R. New York, NY: Springer. 2013. ISBN 9781441916976. OCLC 822231140.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  3. ^ a b Rosenblau, G; Kliemann, D; Dziobek, I; Heekeren, HR (February 2017). "Emotional prosody processing in autism spectrum disorder". Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. 12 (2): 224–39. doi:10.1093/scan/nsw118. PMC 5390729. PMID 27531389.
  4. ^ Peter F. Liddle, Royal College of Psychiatrists Disordered mind and brain: the neural basis of mental symptoms, 301 pages RCPsych Publications, 2001 Retrieved 2012-01-12 ISBN 1-901242-65-X
  5. ^ Victor Peralta, Manuel J. Cuesta, Jose de Leon Title:Formal thought disorder in schizophrenia: A factor analytic study, Publication:Comprehensive Psychiatry Elsevier March–April 1992, Elsevier Retrieved 2012-01-12
  6. ^ [1] doi:10.1016/j.schres.2005.01.016 Retrieved 2012-01-12
  7. ^ Khan M (2022). "Understanding and psychosocial treatment of schizoid personality disorder: a cognitive behavioural, psychoanalytical and bio energetic analysis approach". In Naik S (ed.). Emerging trends in medical sciences. Vol. 4. New Delhi: Integrated publications. pp. 45–62. ISBN 978-93-95118-07-1.
  8. ^ a b c Ghaziuddin, M.; Gerstein, L. (December 1996). "Pedantic speaking style differentiates Asperger syndrome from high-functioning autism". Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 26 (6): 585–595. doi:10.1007/bf02172348. hdl:2027.42/44615. ISSN 0162-3257. PMID 8986845. S2CID 8508542.
  9. ^ a b Shriberg, L. D.; Paul, R.; McSweeny, J. L.; Klin, A. M.; Cohen, D. J.; Volkmar, F. R. (October 2001). "Speech and prosody characteristics of adolescents and adults with high-functioning autism and Asperger syndrome". Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. 44 (5): 1097–1115. CiteSeerX doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2001/087). ISSN 1092-4388. PMID 11708530. S2CID 1676598.
  10. ^ a b de Villiers, Jessica; Fine, Jonathan; Ginsberg, Gary; Vaccarella, Liezanne; Szatmari, Peter (August 2007). "Brief report: a scale for rating conversational impairment in autism spectrum disorder". Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 37 (7): 1375–1380. doi:10.1007/s10803-006-0264-1. ISSN 0162-3257. PMID 17082976. S2CID 6433996.
  11. ^ Covington, Michael A.; He, Congzhou; Brown, Cati; Naçi, Lorina; McClain, Jonathan T.; Fjordbak, Bess Sirmon; Semple, James; Brown, John (2005-09-01). "Schizophrenia and the structure of language: the linguist's view". Schizophrenia Research. 77 (1): 85–98. CiteSeerX doi:10.1016/j.schres.2005.01.016. ISSN 0920-9964. PMID 16005388. S2CID 7206375.
  12. ^ Jeffrey A. Lieberman, T. Scott Stroup, Diana O. Perkins, American Psychiatric Publishing The American Psychiatric Publishing textbook of schizophrenia - 435 pages American Psychiatric Pub, 2006 Retrieved 2012-01-12 ISBN 1-58562-191-9
  13. ^ S. Akhtar and J. Anderson Thomson, "Overview: Narcissistic personality Disorder" American Journal of Psychiatry 139:1 Retrieved 2012-01-12