Filled Pauses as a Sociolinguistic Variable?

The 15 February lecture will be given by Josef Fruehwald and will be about filled pauses. The abstract is as follows:

Since at least the 1960s, sociolinguists have tried to account for variable linguistic behavior by using “Variable Rules.” These are supposed to be rules of grammar, like any other, except they’ve got probabilities attached to them. This tendency has spread out now to other subfields of linguistics where the “probabilities in the grammar” approach is more or less taken for granted. However, there is a growing body of work questioning whether this is the right direction. I’ll be discussing this in the context of a change occurring in English where speakers are more likely to say um/erm instead of uh/er when they use a filled pause. This change looks like a textbook example of a sociolinguistic variable, except it’s not clear that we’d want to apply a variable rules style analysis to it, because it would be strange to say that there is a special grammatical rule for when people experience disfluencies.

Free entry for members, £2 for non-members.

18:00 doors for an 18:15 start.

Don’t forget to join us at the pub afterwards!


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