Open Access Repository

The filled pause and social aspects of conversations.


Downloads per month over past year

Ball, Peter John 1974 , 'The filled pause and social aspects of conversations.', Unspecified thesis, University of Tasmania.

PDF (Whole thesis)
whole_BallPeter...pdf | Download (12MB)
Available under University of Tasmania Standard License.

| Preview


Selected developments in the fields of verbal and nonverbal behaviour
are reviewed, with especial reference to the study of speech in social
context. Among features bordering on both language studies and social
psychology are hesitations and disruptions in speech. Silent pauses have
been found to result from need to plan verbal sequences and a miscellaneous
group of speech disruptions known as NonAhs is a sign of topical anxiety.
Filled pauses ('er', 'um' and variants, also called Ahs) were first
thought to belong with NonAhs but have proved unrelated to anxiety and require
a separate explanation. One hypothesis, that they have an interpersonal role
in apportioning the conversational floor, has fared inconclusively under test
and recent writers have written it off.
In two experiments, filled pause rate was measured as a dependent
variable. Mutual visibility in dyadic conversations was varied from zero through
intermediate levels to normal, but no changes were observed. When an
interviewer's tendency to interrupt was varied, again no significant differences
in Ah rate were recorded. However, the filled pause as an independent variable
elicited effects supportive of the floor control hypothesis.
'Matched guise' recordings of a speaker were heard by independent groups
of undergraduates and presence of Ahs yielded ratings of speaker anxiety,
caution and submissiveness, consistent with either the discredited anxiety
hypothesis or that of floor control. In a final experiment, naive subjects
each interviewed a person whose answers varied in grammatical completion and
whether they terminated with Ahs. Either grammatical incompletion, an Ah or
both prolonged latencies of subjects' next question substantially.
The view that conversations are competitions for the floor is rejected
for a broader outlook on interpersonal regulatory cues. Ahs probably do act in
floor control, but less simply than previously thought and they may have other,
non-regulatory roles besides.
Avenues for future research on the topic are outlined with methodological
suggestions and the work is presented within a suggested systematisation of
accumulating knowledge about interrelationships between linguistic features at several structural levels and various aspects of social behaviour.

Item Type: Thesis - Unspecified
Authors/Creators:Ball, Peter John
Keywords: Speech
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1974 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (M.A.) - Tasmania, 1975. Bibliography: l. 202-215

Item Statistics: View statistics for this item

Actions (login required)

Item Control Page Item Control Page