Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Hesitation Markers in English, German, and Dutch

  • Esther de Leeuw (a1)

This study reports on a number of highly significant differences found between English, German, and Dutch hesitation markers. English and German native speakers used significantly more vocalic-nasal hesitation markers than Dutch native speakers, who used predominantly vocalic hesitation markers. English hesitation markers occurred most frequently when preceded by silence and followed by a lexical item, or when surrounded by silence. German and Dutch hesitation markers occurred most frequently surrounded by lexical items. In Dutch, vocalic-nasal hesitation markers dominated only when surrounded by silence. Vocalic-nasal hesitation markers dominated in all positions in English and German, although in the former language this was more salient than in the latter. Nasal hesitation markers were used significantly more frequently in German than in English or Dutch. In addition to overall language trends, speaker-specific differences, especially within German and Dutch, were observed. These results raise questions in terms of the symptom versus signal hypotheses regarding the function of hesitation markers.I am indebted to Angelika Braun and Jens-Peter Köster for their supervision at the University of Trier. I am also thankful to Monika Schmid and Wim Peeters in the Netherlands and to Eva Gossner in England for their organizational help. Finally, I am very grateful to the participants, and to the two anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions. All inadequacies in this article remain my responsibility.

Corresponding author
Speech Science Research Centre, Queen Margaret University, Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, Clerwood Terrace, Edinburgh EH12 8TS, United Kingdom, []
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

BortfeldHeather, Silvia D.Leon, Jonathan E.Bloom, Michael F.Schober, and Susan E.Brennan 2001. Disfluency rates in conversation: Effects of age, relationship, topic, role, and gender. Language and Speech 44.123147.

ClarkHerbert H., and Jean E. FoxTree 2002. Using uh and um in spontaneous speaking. Cognition 84.73111.

ChristenfeldNicholas 1994. Options and ums. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 13.192199.

Fox TreeJean E. 2001. Listener's uses of um and uh in speech comprehension. Memory and Cognition 29.320326.

Fox TreeJean E. 2002. Interpreting pauses and ums at turn-exchanges. Discourse Processes 34.3755.

LaverJohn 1994. Principles of phonetics. (Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

LeveltWillem J. M. 1983. Monitoring and self-repair in speech. Cognition 14.41104.

MaclayHoward, and Charles E.Osgood 1959. Hesitation phenomena in spontaneous English speech. Word 15.1944.

O'ConnellDaniel C., and SabineKowal 2005. Uh and um revisited: Are they interjections for signaling delay? Journal of Psycholinguistic Research 34.555576.

ReynoldsAllan, and AllanPaivio 1968. Cognitive and emotional determinants of speech. Canadian Journal of Psychology 22.164175.

RochesterSherry R. 1973. The significance of pauses in spontaneous speech. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research 2.5181.

SchachterStanley, NicholasChristenfeld, BernardRavina, and FrancesBilous 1991. Speech disfluency and the structure of knowledge. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 60.362367.

ShribergElizabeth 2001. To “err” is human: Ecology and acoustics of speech disfluencies. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 31.153169.

SiegmanAron Wolfe, and BenjaminPope 1966. Ambiguity and verbal fluency in the TAT. Journal of Consulting Psychology 30.239245.

TaurozaSteve, and DesmondAllison 1990. Speech rates in British English. Applied Linguistics 11.90105.

VerhoevenJo, GuyDe Pauw, and HanneKloots 2004. Speech rate in a pluricentric language: A comparison between Dutch in Belgium and the Netherlands. Language and Speech 47.297308.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Germanic Linguistics
  • ISSN: 1470-5427
  • EISSN: 1475-3014
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-germanic-linguistics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 8
Total number of PDF views: 65 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 205 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 24th September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.