Yet another Kaken report, done!
As I announced here three years, ago, I have had a three-year research-in-aid grant (known as Kaken-hi) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Sciences (JSPS) to study the silent and filled pause production and perception with respect to linguistic structure in second language (official project page here). The grant finished this past March, but as usual, it's not over until the reports are written. I have now submitted the reports.
These are public funds and so the report is supposed to be written to be accessible to the Japanese public; hence, in Japanese. Naturally, that takes me a little more effort. But, it's now done and can be be downloaded here (in Japanese, of course). The key findings from the project are topics I've already posted about in pieces over the past three years. This page summarizes the most interesting points.
The first part of the project was to analyze the Crosslinguistic Corpus of Hesitation Phenomena (CCHP) with respect to the occurrence of silent and filled pauses in native Japanese and second language English speech. An important finding from that study was that overall, speakers use more silent than filled pauses immediately before major boundaries (between utterances) and minor boundaries (between clauses). Furthermore, the duration of these silent pauses were longer than the average silent pause while the duration of filled pauses was no different than the average filled pause.
The second main finding falls in line with this result but is a perceptual study. It is an extension of Bailey and Ferreira's (2013) study in which they found that when listeners heard a sentence with a filled pause placed at a clause non-boundary, they were less likely to judge the sentence grammatical. In my study, I added the comparison of silent to filled pauses, and also tested both native listeners (replicating Bailey and Ferreira) and nonnative listeners.
The native English listeners show an identical pattern of results to Bailey and Ferreira, but further show that the effect of pauses is stronger with filled pauses: They judged sentences with silent pauses at clause non-boundaries as grammatical even less often than those with filled pauses.
Nonnative listeners show the same pattern, yet further, they show that when a silent pause is placed at a clause boundary, they are more likely to judge the sentence grammatical than with a filled pause. Hence, the silent pause is facilitative to their comprehension of the sentence structure.
I interpret these results to suggest that listeners associate silent pauses more closely with syntactic processing than filled pauses and that this is a robust result across languages. However, I admit that I still need to run the experiment with Japanese listeners in order to make the best comparison between the corpus result and the perceptual experiment result. For the time being, that will have to remain further work.
[Note: This post was published in September 2020 but has been dated in order to reflect the actual timing of the events described here.]