The structural signaling effect of silent and filled pauses
Filled pauses (uh, um) have been shown in a number of studies to have a facilitative effect for listeners, such as helping them better perceive the syntactic structure of ongoing speech. This may be because the extra time afforded by the filled pause gives listeners more time to process the input. Theoretically, then, silent pauses should show a comparable effect. The present study tests this prediction using a grammaticality judgment task following a study by Bailey and Ferreira (2003). Results show that filled and silent pauses have a comparable influence on listeners’ grammaticality judgments but further suggest that listeners deem silent pauses as more important and influential markers.