Saturday, February 21, 1998 at 12:24:24

You mentioned that your father spoke at church. I have long been interested in the filled pause (I call it the "vocalized pause") as it is used by ministers of the gospel, primarily those of the pentecostal persuasion. These usually involve the vocalization of some religious word or phrase while the minister pauses to think. They flow with the regular text of the message and include things like "amen", "praise Jesus", "hallelujah", "yes Lord", and many others. have you done, or are you aware of work specifically concentrating on this phenomenon. There are many examples of it on religious-formatted radio stations.

- JD

My father was not himself a pastor, but as an active senior member occasionally stood in front of the congregation to talk about this, that, or another. However, I do recognize what you're talking about:  The clergy certainly do have a great deal of idiosyncratic speech techniques.  Of course, Rev. Spooner is about the most famous of all (ever heard of 'spoonerisms'?). However, the phenomena you're talking about--where a speaker's pause is filled by the audience--is one that I recognize but have not studied.   Nor am I aware of any studies of this.  Although it certainly would make for fascinating research.  Offhand, however, I might hypothesize that these 'vocalized pauses', as you call them, might better fit into the linguistic category of 'backchannels'.  That is, feedback from the listener (e.g., 'uh-huh', 'yeah', 'I see') that indicates "Yes, I am listening and following what you're saying."   Backchannels, though, are usually not considered in the same field as hesitation phenomena.

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