Disfluency in Spontaneous Speech (DiSS'01)

August 29-31, 2001
Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

The Double Function of Disfluency Phenomena in Spontaneous Speech

Mária Gósy

Linguistics Institute, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary

Disfluency in spontaneous speech is the outcome of a speaker’s indecision about what to say next. The listener, however, is continuously adapted to both the language signals and the types of disfluency of the heard text. What is in the background of this adaptation process?

This paper analyses the types and characteristics of the disfluency phenomena of a 78-minute spontaneous speech sample (produced by 10 adults). The author’s intention is to explain the characteristics of disharmony between speech planning and articulation within the speech production process. In order to explain the hypothesized double function of disfluency in terms of perceptual necessity from the listener’s side various experiments have been carried out.

Three different samples of spontaneous speech have been selected for experimental purposes. Three groups of listeners (altogether 60 university students) participated in the experiments. One of the groups had to detect the instances of disfluency in the texts marking them on a paper sheet. The subjects of the other group listened to the same texts and then wrote down their contents. The pauses and hesitations were then eliminated from the texts. The third group of the subjects had the same comprehension task as the previous one had.

Results show that (i) instances of disfluency are consequences of the speaker’s speech planning processes, (ii) their reasons and occurrences are unconsciously known by the listener as well, (iii) disfluency phenomena are relatively well predicted, (iv) the listeners need pauses and hesitations in order to comprehend the heard texts successfully.


Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Gósy, Mária (2001): "The double function of disfluency phenomena in spontaneous speech", In DISS'01, 57-60.