ISCA Archive

Disfluency in Spontaneous Speech

Aix-en-Provence, France
September 10-12, 2005


The Effects of Filled Pauses on Native and Non-Native Listeners’ Speech Processing

Michiko Watanabe (1), Yasuharu Den (2), Keikichi Hirose (3), Nobuaki Minematsu (1)

(1) Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, University of Tokyo, Japan
(2) Faculty of Letters, Chiba University, Japan
(3) Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, University of Tokyo, Japan

Everyday speech is abundant with disfluencies. However, little is known about their roles in speech communication. We examined the effects of filled pauses at phrase boundaries on native and non-native listeners in Japanese. Study of spontaneous speech corpus showed that filled pauses tended to precede relatively long and complex constituents. We tested the hypothesis that filled pauses biased listeners’ expectation about the upcoming phrase toward a longer and complex one. In the experiment participants were presented with two shapes at one time, one simple and the other compound. Their task was to identify the one that they heard as soon as possible. The speech stimuli involved two factors: complexity and fluency. As the complexity factor, a half of the speech stimuli described compound shapes with long and complex phrases and the other half described simple shapes with short and simple phrases. As the fluency factor phrases describing a shape had a preceding filled pause, a preceding silent pause of the same length, or no preceding pause. The results of the experiments with both native and non-native listeners showed that response times to the complex phrases were significantly shorter after filled or silent pauses than when there was no pause. In contrast, there was no significant difference between the three conditions for the simple phrases, supporting the hypothesis.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Watanabe, Michiko / Den, Yasuharu / Hirose, Keikichi / Minematsu, Nobuaki (2005): "The effects of filled pauses on native and non-native listeners² speech processing", In DiSS-2005, 169-172.