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Predicting pauses in L1 and L2 speech: the effects of utterance boundaries and word frequency

Nivja H de Jong

Abstract

This paper compares the distribution of silent and filled pauses in first (L1) and second language (L2) speech. The occurrence of pauses of 52 L2 and 18 L1 Dutch speakers was evaluated with respect to utterance boundaries and word frequency. We found that L2 speakers paused more often than L1 speakers within utterances; but not between utterances. Similarly, only within utterances, L2 pauses were longer than L1 pauses. Regarding word frequency, both L1 and L2 speakers are more likely to pause before lower frequency words as compared to higher frequency words. These findings imply that L1 and L2 speakers’ production processes may be similar in that (1) pauses at utterance boundaries are used for conceptual planning mostly and (2) lexical retrieval difficulties are comparable for L1 and L2 speakers. These findings furthermore imply that when using fluency for L2 testing, pause locations must be taken into account.

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Published Online: 2016-6-10
Published in Print: 2016-6-1

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