Terms and Acronyms

These terms are often used throughout the analyses of the conversations. These explanations should be helpful in understanding how certain variables were defined and understood.

Mean Length Runs (MLR)

involve the number of syllables that are uttered until the speaker stops talking or pauses.

Speech rate (SR)

is first assessed by the number of meaningful syllables within a narrative, divided by the number of seconds used to complete the task and multiplied by 60. All meaningless syllables, words, phrases that were repeated, reformulated, or replaced are excluded. A fluency differential is also included which reflects the difference between this rate and a fluency rate in which all of the syllables within the narrative are taken into account, see fluency rates A / B, as identified by Wendel (1997).


are defined as any silence lasting one second or more; those less than one second are counted as micropauses. “The presence, length and freauency of silences and hesitations affect the listerner’s perception of an interlocutor’s fluency. In verbal encounters common to all language users, mainly conversations and discussions, pauses and hesitations are normal features of the interaction. Despite this, silence is often seen as a sign of dysfluency, especially in foreign language speech where it may be perceived as signally poor functioning of mental processes, instead of viewing it as a normal feature of speech processing” (Chambers, 1997: 538). Although listeners accept pauses in their native language, not all pauses are acceptable, hence the differentiation between “natural” and “unnatural pauses”. Naural pauses, allowing breathing space, usually occur at some clause junctures or after groups of words forming a semantic unit. Pauses appearing at places other than these are judged as hesitations, (Chambers, 1997) revealing either lexical or morphological uncertainty. These hesitations may be either simply a silent gap or marked by non-lexical fillers (“uh,” “um”), sound stretches (or drawls on words) or lexical fillers with no semantic information (such as “you know,” “I mean”).

Speech Anxieties

Speech anxiety refers to any kind of distress, discomfort, fear, anxiety, and of  avoidance of social situations that results from person-to-person, small and large group communication.

Distress refers to any kind of emotional feelings relating poor performance or anxiousness about having to speak in front of others.

Discomfort refers to raised heart beats, sweating, tenseness.

Fear refers to being terrified and extremely anxious.

Avoidance includes any behaviour to not engage in communication, either with acquaintances or strangers.

Complexity Measures

Syntactical Complexity as stated before, is the extent to which a speaker can produce elaborated language, and even take risks to more complex phrasing. For this study, syntactical indicators included mean length of sentence (MLS), mean length of T-unit (MLT), mean length of clause (MLC), clause per sentence (C/S), verb phrase per T-unit (VP/T), dependent clause per T-unit, T-unit per sentence, (T/S), complex T-unit ratio (CT/T), complex nominal per T-unit (CN/T), and complex nominal per clause (CN/C) will be examined.

CA Transcription Symbols

Smile quality £
Exhale / inhale hhh
vocalism (sniffle)
click .t
laugh pulse heh
laughing word wo(h)rd
laughter heh heh
Low pitch
High pitch
pause, timed (1.2)
4, pause, short (.)
lag (prosodic length / elongated sound) :
unintelligible ()
uncertain (word)
Emphatic tone !
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