LINGUIST List 2.675

Thu 17 Oct 1991

Disc: Pauses

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Marjorie K M Chan, Filled Pauses
  2. , Filled pauses
  3. Steve Harlow, RE: 2.660 Responses

Message 1: Filled Pauses

Date: Tue, 15 Oct 91 12:14:50 EDT
From: Marjorie K M Chan <>
Subject: Filled Pauses
In response to Liz Shriberg's inquiry on filled pauses in languages other
than English, French, or German, the Zhongshan (Yue) dialect of Chinese
has [ku] (in high level tone) 'this' as a pause filler, as evidenced in
my mother's speech. (She speaks the variety of Zhongshan spoken in Shiqi,
the county seat of Zhongshan district, Guangdong Province.)
In Mandarin Chinese, besides the demonstrative mentioned by Scott DeLancey,
_name_ (which is glossed in the dictionaries as 'in that way; then') seems
to be used as an empty filler sometimes.
Hong Kong Cantonese speakers seem to be particularly fond of using [tsIk hai]
'equal' where English speakers use 'you know' as filler in giving them time
to come up with the remainder of the sentence in conversational discourse.
				Marjorie Chan, Ohio State U.
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Message 2: Filled pauses

Date: Tue, 15 Oct 91 11:43:49 CDT
Subject: Filled pauses
 For the record -- like the aforementioned Mandarin, Japanese, and Serbo-
Croation -- Spanish also often uses a demonstrative for filling pauses.
Sp. _este:_ is masc. sing. (neuter _esto_ is not used), and it is
the proximal member of a three-degree system.
 Other Spanish favorites are [e:] and [m:] on a constant tone.
 I'm no Mandarin expert, but I understand that both proximal _zheige_
and distal _neige_ are used.
 There was a paper -- and I will search for a more specific reference
if anyone's interested and if someone else doesn't fill the gap for me --
presented at a conference during the recent summer institute at Santa Cruz,
the conference titled something like "Prosody and Discourse" and the
paper on the prosody of English _um_ (concluding, if I remember right,
that _um_ picks up intonation from its environment).
 By the way, at the same conference there was a paper presentation --
given before the _um_ paper made us all hyperconscious of the subject --
whose *LAST WORD* was _um_! This started a number of us discussing
what might be the implications of discourse-final _um_.
Contrary to the initial impression that the speaker might be rudely
confusing listeners as to whether his/her speaking turn is finished
(i.e. monopolizing the floor with nothing to say),
two of us *independently* suggested that final _um_ might be a form of
courtesy! "I've said everything I can think of on this, but I'm
willing to keep the subject open if you want..."
Lee Hartman ga5123siucvmb.bitnet
Department of Foreign Languages
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901 U.S.A.
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Message 3: RE: 2.660 Responses

Date: Tue, 15 Oct 91 18:42 BST
From: Steve Harlow <>
Subject: RE: 2.660 Responses
 Date: Fri, 11 Oct 91 22:59:45 EDT
 From: "Wayles Browne (Cornell Univ.)" <JN5JCORNELLA.BITNET>
 Subject: Re: Filled Pauses
Wayles Browne comments:
> Serbo-Croatian agrees with what Scott Delancey says about Japanese and
> Mandarin: it uses a demonstrative _ovaj_ 'this (masculine singular
> nominative)' as a pause filler. Unlike Japanese and Mandarin, this is
> not a distal demonstrative;
Before the claim about Mandarin acquires the status of an uncontravertible
fact, I think it's worthwhile pointing out Scott Delancey's original observation
contained an error. The pause-filler 'zhege/zheige' is in fact the proximal
demonstrative. (The distal one is 'nage/neige'.)
Steve Harlow
University of York
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