Filled Pause Research Center Home Page "Uh, what do you mean by, uh..., 'filled pauses'?" "Why do, um, people use filled pauses?" "Um, why are you so, uh, interested in filled pauses?" "Just what, um, is your angle in your, uh, dissertation about filled pauses?" "What, um, are your sources of, uh, information about filled pauses?" "Where can I, uh, learn more about filled pauses on the, uh, web?" "Um, who are you?" Send Feedback!

Find out what's new at the Filled Pause Research Center!

My Interest in Pauses

My father spent the majority of his career as a University professor. While highly competent in his field of specialization and adept at teaching at it (these two qualities rarely go hand in hand...), one apparent flaw was ever-present in his lectures - an abundance of filled pauses. He apparently achieved some notoriety for this on- as well as off-campus. Even I remember as a youth when my father would speak at our church I would sit in back with friends keeping a tally and calculating my father's "um"-rate as in, "Hey Dad, today you averaged 23 ums-a-minute! Better watch yourself or you might get sent back down to the farm leagues!"

However, "The apple never falls very far from the tree" as they say. And so I too have developed the same habit in my speech. In a college speech class I was chided by the teacher for an excessive use of filled pauses. But a participant in a workshop I gave at a recent conference was a little more direct on a post-evaluation form: "Would you please stop saying 'Um'!"

Over the years I developed an interest in this phenomenon of human speech (in particular when I started learning Japanese and discovered that a pause can be articulated differently). Observing some stand-up comedians and actors (e.g., Bob Newhart, David Letterman, Jimmy Stewart) I recognized their 'natural' and humorous use of filled pauses. Thus, I have begun to wonder to what degree these pauses can really be classified as mental lapses or whether some are in fact a part of natural discourse used purposefully by the speaker and conveying some meaning to the listener? And now, as an EFL Teacher, I have begun to wonder what is the effect on communication between native and non-native speakers of English when the non-native speaker uses pause fillers indigenous to his/her own language? Finally, what does all of this mean for the language teacher: is there a cause to teach explicitly the communicative value of filled pauses and encourage their use?

My motivation to pursue this topic of study springs from these puddles of thought and experience.


Filled Pause Research Center Home Page

"Filled Pauses" - a Definition ] Meaning ] [ My Interest ] My Dissertation ] Bibliography ] Links ] A Little About Me... ] Feedback ] News ] Site Contents ]

send feedback

This site is maintained by Ralph L. Rose
Last Revised: 99/08/26


Note! This is the original FPRC ca. 1998. It is made available for archival purposes only. Click here to return to the current FPRC.