Thursday, February 19, 1998 at 10:00:04
You are not the only person who has pondered why we use Filled Pauses. My questrion/comment; why teach someone to speak more effectively using FP's. why not put more effort into speaking without FP's at the risk of loosing a speaking turn. I bring this up because some will use FP's so frequently that the point or subject becomes lost.
You make a good point: "Why encourage people to use FPs?" First, I'd like to make clear that I am discussing learners of a second/foreign language. Naturally, there seems to be no good reason to encourage a native speaker to practice *less* fluency in his/her language. What I do suggest for ESL/EFL learners is that their *awareness* of FPs (filled pauses) in native speaker speech be raised. This will benefit first their listening comprehension (FPs and other disfluencies have been shown to be significant comprehension barriers for nonnatives). Second, it may actually make them appear *more* fluent. My current dissertation research suggests that when not overly intrusive, FPs are 'filtered out' by listeners, while silence is distracting. Finally, the only time I might encourage the learner to use English FPs is to replace the use of their native langauge FPs which may be a source of miscomprehension for others.
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