A First Investigation of the Timing of Turn-taking in Ruuli

Tuarik Buanzur, Margaret Zellers, Saudah Namyalo, Alena Witzlack-Makarevich


Turn-taking behavior in conversation is reported to be universal among cultures, although the language-specific means used to accomplish smooth turn-taking are likely to differ. Previous studies investigating turn-taking have primarily focused on languages which are already heavily-studied. The current work investigates the timing of turn-taking in question-response sequences in naturalistic conversations in Ruuli, an under-studied Bantu language spoken in Uganda. We extracted sequences involving wh-questions and polar questions and measured the duration of the gap or overlap between questions and their following responses, additionally differentiating between different response types such as affirmative (i.e. type-conforming) or negative (i.e. non-type-conforming) responses to polar questions. We find that the timing of responses to various question types in Ruuli is consistent with timings that have been reported for a variety of other languages, with a mean gap duration between questions and responses of around 259 ms. Our findings thus emphasize the universal nature of turn-taking behavior in human interaction, despite Ruuli's substantial structural differences from languages in which turn-taking has been previously studied.


 DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2018-1254

Cite as: Buanzur, T., Zellers, M., Namyalo, S., Witzlack-Makarevich, A. (2018) A First Investigation of the Timing of Turn-taking in Ruuli. Proc. Interspeech 2018, 621-625, DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2018-1254.


@inproceedings{Buanzur2018,
  author={Tuarik Buanzur and Margaret Zellers and Saudah Namyalo and Alena Witzlack-Makarevich},
  title={A First Investigation of the Timing of Turn-taking in Ruuli},
  year=2018,
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2018},
  pages={621--625},
  doi={10.21437/Interspeech.2018-1254},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/Interspeech.2018-1254}
}