Wednesday, February 25, 1998 at 07:28:06

I cannot claim to have read your whole site, but your taxonomy of pauses intrigues me.   I'm particularly interested in the compound pause that I'm finding increasingly common -  "But, uh, ...".  It is both lexicalized and unlexicalized.   More importantly, it is incredibly common in spontaneous speech.  And it's beginning to drive me nuts...Are you going to extend your research to the hearer's end?   Or  should I just up the Thorazine intake and fuggeddaboudit?

- PC

Well, uh, let me see...  How might I answer your question...

Yes, it is true that such pauses are common in spontaneous speech.  In my research I have found that filled pauses are often accompanied by other filled pauses or other types of hesitation phenomena.  Indeed, such disfluency can become distractive.  I wonder, though, if the degree of irritation that the hearer feels with disfluent speech depends on the hearer's own attitudes toward such disfluencies.  Perhaps because I am such a great filled-pauser myself, I find that I rarely notice others' filled pauses:  they are filtered out such that I hear the message only.  On the other hand, members of Toastmasters International (a group devoted to the improvement of public speaking skills) often have very strong reactions to filled pauses.  In that respect, you might be well-advised to "fuggeddaboudit".

As for taking Thorazine, "The FILLED PAUSE RESEARCH CENTER neither encourages nor condones the use of...."

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