lexical filler

Filler words and filled pauses: Are they literally the same?

Social media spent some bandwidth last week flogging away at Vice-President Joe Biden's prolific use of 'literally' in his address to the Democratic Convention. Frankly, I don't really have much problem with this. The alternate use of 'literally' as an intensifier as opposed to a literal antonym of 'figuratively' is not some recent neologism. As Ben Zimmer points out at Language Log, this usage has been around since the 18th century. I won't go into the details of all that since the big guns at LL have already done the work.

And anyway, this is the Filled Pause Research Center.  So what's the relevance here?  Well, James Taranto, the Wall Street Journal columnist, took on the task of analyzing the ten different instances of 'literally' in Biden's speech.  Here's part of his contribution to the Biden brouhaha.

What makes this exercise even funnier is the fact that the word "literally" does not appear once--literally!--in the prepared text. All 10 "literallys" were extemporaneous. When Biden says "literally," it seems, he means "uh."

Crosslinguistic Corpus of Hesitation Phenomena (CCHP) First Release!

The Filled Pause Research Center is please to announce the initial release of Corpus of Hesitation Phenomena (CCHP) materials. This release includes audio files (wav and mp3) and transcripts (annotated xml and plain text) for six participants.  The transcription process is still ongoing. Thus, transcripts in this release do not yet contain time markings and there are no Praat TextGrid files yet.

Those who wish to access the corpus are asked to create a new account in the FPRC.  After doing so, the corpus archive can be accessed on the CCHP main page. Registered users may then download the entire corpus (as released so far) or sub-collections of the corpus or browse and download individual files in the corpus.

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.

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