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Categorization of pauses in conversational speech

Speaking of prosody: A symposium in conjunction with the 60th birthday of Professor Merle Horne. Lund University, May 21 2011
Year of publication: 
Conference poster

Pauses are often divided into pauses between turns and pauses within
turns; that is pauses where speaker change takes place, and pauses
where the same speaker speaks before and after the pause. While this
may be one way to categorize pauses, a further categorization will here
be suggested and backed up by data.
Within turns, there are two possible pause locations: a pause may
occur at a possible transition relevance place (TRP), or it can occur
within a syntactic unit. This suggests that when the pause occurs
at a TRP, the speakers negotiate whether the current speaker shall
continue speaking, or if there will be a turn change. When the speaker
pauses within a syntactic unit, it is more clear that the speaker that
spoke before the pause will continue after the pause. In analogy with
this, at a turn change where no speaker has been nominated, speakers
need to negotiate who will take the turn. When a speaker has been
nominated by the previous speaker, the pause at the turn change does
not include “turn negotiation.”
When investigating pause lengths and variance, the pause types
that do not include turn negotiation show clear similarities, as do the
pauses that do include turn negotiation. It is therefore possible to
conclude that when only dividing pauses into occurring between and
within turns, some of the features that characterize different pause
types are lost.

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Page updated: 2012-01-30 14:03

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