filled pause

Deception and the use of filled pauses

Meet the Parents (2000, Universal Pictures) - Lie detector sceneI was browsing through Lifehacker the other day and found a recent posting entitled, "Spot Liars by Paying Attention to Their Reaction Within the First Five Seconds of a Conversation" by Thorin Klosowski. This seemed interesting so I started reading and came across the following.

We've talked a lot about the different types of clues you can watch out for when trying to detect a lie, including, the various, scientifically proven methods, the fact many liars begin a sentence with "well", how liars often use filler words like "um" or "ah", and how body language might reveal a liar.

A Brief Taxonomy of Hesitation Phenomena

Hesitation phenomena are an integral part of speech, particularly unscripted, spontaneous speech. A crucial factor underlying all hesitation phenomena is the fact that all of them entail the delay of message transfer in some way. That is, if the phenomenon had not occurred, the communication of the speaker's message would have been faster. Yet, it is not easy to construct a clear categorization of the different types since there is characterization of hesitation phenomena in the literature has not been particularly consistent.

Poster presentation at IWoLP

I recently gave a poster presentation at the International Workshop on Language Production (IWoLP 2012) held at New York University, July 18-20. The conference was quite interesting. It definitely was oriented more toward (neuro)psychology than linguistics (i.e., lots of fMRI studies, few grammatical judgment surveys), yet was still a large enough program that there was something for everyone.

Finally, a Book about Filled Pauses!

[This post was written for a blog I started in 2007 but discontinued soon after. Since that blog no longer exists and the content is relevant here, I've uploaded it here with its original time stamp.]

Um… Book CoverThere's a new book out by Michael Erard called Um... Slips, Stumbles, and Verbal Blunders, And What They Mean... (website, Amazon). I am excited to read it since it has been recommended by Ben Zimmer and Arnold Zwicky is one of the featured (non-fictional) characters in the book. Both of these guys post regularly at Language Log, one of my most frequented blog sites. Furthermore, the author has a Master's in Linguistics and a Ph.D. in English. It's darn near always good when a linguist gets around to writing a book for the broader public. That's not necessarily 'cause the books themselves are always good, but rather because more linguists should try to engage larger audiences than our own narrow in-group. In this case, though, it looks like we have the added bonus that the book is actually good.

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