Search Results

The meaning of filled pauses?

The first two panels of a recent SMBC:

Comments (12)

Donald Trump, now with more filled pauses

Today's shocking news story: "‘I just want to find 11,780 votes’: In extraordinary hour-long call, Trump pressures Georgia secretary of state to recalculate the vote in his favor", WaPo 12/3/2020. The full audio and transcript of the call is here. But since this is Language Log, and not Political Chicanery Log, my take on the […]

Comments (8)

Filled pauses in Glasgow

In previous posts about filled pauses, we've seen a consistent and large sex difference: women use (what's transcribed as) "um" somewhat more than men do, and men use (what's transcribed as) "uh" a lot more than women do.  This pattern has been found in two large conversational telephone speech corpora involving a mix of ages and […]

Comments (16)

Filled pauses and faked audio

After a period of having her staff send answers in writing to written questions, Caroline Kennedy recently granted an interview to Nicholas Confessore and David M. Halbfinger of the New York Times. On 12/27/2008, the NYT published an 8,600-word transcript of the interview, along with a conventional summary presentation whose online version includes a sidebar […]

Comments (16)

Spontaneous SCOTUS

Years ago, Jerry Goldman (then at Northwestern) created the website as  a multimedia archive devoted to making the Supreme Court of the United States accessible to everyone. It is the most complete and authoritative source for all of the Court’s audio since the installation of a recording system in October 1955. Oyez offers transcript-synchronized […]

Comments (2)

Past posts on Donald Trump's rhetoric

A couple of weeks ago, a reporter asked me for an interview "to discuss the style of Donald Trump's campaign events, the role his rhetoric plays in them, and why they’ve been an effective tool for him". I explained that I haven't held any focus groups or done any polls, so I don't have any […]

Comments (1)

Read vs. spontaneous speech

Across the many disciplines that analyze language, there's surprisingly little focus on the properties of natural, spontaneous speech, as opposed to read (or memorized and performed) speech. But of course that dichotomy is an oversimplification — there are many linguistic registers, many ways to read each of the many styles of text, and even more […]

Comments (4)


On June 1 in Iowa, Donald Trump gave a speech in which he attacked Ron DeSantis from several angles. One of them was DeSantis' variation in pronunciation of his last name (see "Pronouncing 'DeSantis'", 6/3/2023), which Trump characterized as "changing his name", while introducing a puzzling (but promising?) new linguistic term, "syllabolic": Your browser does […]

Comments (14)

Fluent "disfluencies" again

One conventional view of "disfluencies" in speech is that they're the result of confusions and errors, such as difficulties in deciding what to say or how to say it, or changing ideas about what to say or how to say it, or slips of the tongue that need to be corrected. Another idea is that […]

Comments (3)

The Fermi Conversation effect

Since unidentified aerial phenomena (=UFOs) have been in the news recently, so has the "Fermi Paradox". And the Wikipedia article on the Fermi Paradox has an interesting linguistic resonance, aside from all the speculation about what communication with aliens might be like. Here's Wikipedia on the original Los Alamos conversation: In the summer of 1950 […]

Comments (7)

Disfluency stylings: On beyond hesitation

Some things that "everybody knows" are refuted repeatedly by the experience of everyday life. A notably example is the function of "filled pauses", whose American English versions are conventionally written "um" and "uh". Dictionaries all say that these are are expressions of hesitation, doubt, uncertainty; ways to fill time or hold the floor. The OED […]

Comments (13)

December debate prosody

The sixth (of 10) scheduled Democratic presidential debate took place on 12/19/2019. There's video on YouTube here, and a WaPo transcript here. As a start on various forms of analysis, I thought I'd take a look at some simple phonetic characteristics of the candidates' answers to the first question, which was about the current impeachment […]

Comments (2)

Canoe schemata nama gary anaconda

Following up on recent posts suggesting that speech-to-text is not yet a solved problem ("Shelties On Alki Story Forest", "The right boot of the warner of the baron", "AI is brittle"), here's a YouTube link to a lecture given in July of 2018 by Michael Picheny, "Speech Recognition: What's Left?" The whole thing is worth […]

Comments (4)