Crosslinguistic perception and production of filled and silent pauses and raising L2 learners’ awareness of them

Seminar | 336 | 10:00

Ralph L. ROSE,

Waseda University


Filled pauses (e.g., uh/um) in speech are thought to be signs of underlying cognitive processes and hence listeners may see them as signals of such things as syntactic structure. Less is known about the signalling nature of silent pauses however. In this talk, I will share evidence from a series of psycholinguistic experiments to show that both silent and filled pauses may serve a signalling function which listeners are sensitive to across languages. Furthermore, the data show some differences between silent and filled pauses: Silent pauses seem to be more closely related to syntactic structure than filled pauses.

Given the importance of and difference between silent and filled pauses in perception, it behooves second language (L2) learners to become more aware of their use of these phenomena and how they influence their fluency. In the latter part of the talk, I will describe and demonstrate an application I’m developing called Fluidity, which is designed to help L2 learners raise their awareness of different aspects of their speech including pauses and thereby improve their speed fluency.


Ralph Rose is a member of the Faculty of Science and Engineering at Waseda University where he and his colleagues manage the English language program. He has spent the past year on sabbatical leave using Lisbon as a base to study the theory, measurement, and development of speech fluency.

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