The Functions of Fillers, Filled Pauses and Co-occurring Gestures in Danish Dyadic Conversations

Costanza Navaretta
University of Copenhagen, Denmark

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Ingår i: Proceedings from the 3rd European Symposium on Multimodal Communication, Dublin, September 17-18, 2015

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 105:10, s. 55-61

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Publicerad: 2016-09-16

ISBN: 978-91-7685-679-6

ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


Fillers, alone or accompanied by pauses and/or gestures, are quite frequent in all types of spoken communication. They have numerous and non-exclusive functions which are related to interaction management (feedback and turn management) or discourse planning. Fillers are part of the language and thus, to some extent, language dependent. This article presents an analysis of fillers, filled pauses and co-occurring gestures in a Danish multimodal corpus of first encounters. The aims of the study are to determine the most common fillers in the corpus, the gestures co-occurring with them, their functions, and possibly their most prototypical uses. The results of our study indicate that the most common fillers in the data are øh, mm, øhm which all are accompanied by one or more gestures in most of their occurrences. We also found that each filler type has a predominant or prototypical use. Mm often occurs alone as feedback marker and is accompanied by feedback gestures. Øhm has the longest duration and often precedes an utterance or a clausal phrase signaling discourse planning. Its co-speech gestures have also interaction management functions. Finally, øh often precedes a content word, has a shorter duration than øhm and signals lexical retrieval. Interestingly the prototypical uses of the vocal øh and the vocal-nasal øhm are the same as those of the English vocal uh and vocal-nasal um, respectively.


multimodal communication, gestures, filled pause


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