Special Issue "Pauses in Speech"

A special issue of Languages (ISSN 2226-471X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2022 | Viewed by 606

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Jürgen Trouvain
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Language Science and Technology, Saarland University, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany
Interests: speech pauses; speech respiration; prosodic breaks; pause-internal phonetic particles
Prof. Dr. Bernd Möbius
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Language Science and Technology, Saarland University, 66123 Saarbrücken, Germany
Interests: speech production; speech perception; prosody; speech synthesis

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Producing continuous speech without pauses is impossible. However, speech pauses are rarely the object of scientific research in linguistics and speech science and technology. Pauses are taken for granted and usually ignored in terms of annotation and analysis of spoken language. Even though speech pauses as a temporal variable are prosodic in nature, prosody research and, specifically, studies on speech timing tend to ignore pauses. The fact that speech pauses are an under-investigated research area is reflected by, for instance, a lack of coverage in the recent Handbook of Language Prosody (Gussenhoven and Chen, 2020), suggesting a relative lack of sensitivity in the phonetic and prosodic communities in speech material beyond single utterances or sentences.

Speech pauses are often considered as silence, i.e., as the absence of phonetic gestures, although many pauses are in fact not silent in an acoustic-phonetic sense: they often contain phonetic particles such as breath noises, tongue clicks and lip smacks, and these particles can be informative with respect to speech planning and preparation. Complementary to the inadequate term 'silent pauses', the term 'filled pauses' is often used to refer to a hesitation syllable, which consists of either a vowel or a vowel followed by a nasal consonant, but not to the entire pause event, which includes silent phases before or after, or both, of a hesitation syllable or other phonetic particles. Apart from a lack of a consensus on such descriptive terms, the underlying relation between pauses and the planning and execution of speech production and their role in speech perception are evidently still under-researched.

Speech pauses are sometimes used as synonyms for prosodic boundaries found in fluent and well-formed speech. These boundaries usually reflect syntactic but also rhythmical structures (Gee and Grosjean, 1983). Speech pauses can also be used beyond 'spoken interpunction', for instance for emphasis and thus have a highlighting function, typically directing the listener's attention to upcoming linguistic material (e.g. Fuchs et al., 2013), but they also play a role in turn-taking (e.g. Lundholm Fors, 2015). In addition, pauses are core markers of non-scripted speech styles. The analysis and modeling of speech tempo and fluency, which is essential for many fields of spoken language research and applications - such as non-native speech, pathological forms of speech, forensic analyses, and speech synthesis and recognition, must crucially consider speech pauses.

This special issue attempts to fill the gaps identified above and bring together contributions from several areas of spoken language research. Possible research questions include, but are not limited to: What is a pause? What is the role of breathing for speech pausing? How do pauses affect speech fluency? What are the phonetic characteristics of hesitations and filler particles? What is the contribution of pauses to perceived tempo, speaking rate, and fluency? To what extent are pausing patterns idiosyncratic or language/culture dependent? What are the signatures of pauses in dialogues, multimodal contexts and in different speech styles, including affective speech?

We request that, prior to submitting a manuscript, interested authors initially submit a proposed title and an abstract of 400-600 words summarizing their intended contribution. Please send it to the guest editors Jürgen Trouvain ([email protected]) and Bernd Möbius ([email protected]) or to the journal's editorial office ([email protected]). Abstracts will be reviewed by the guest editors for the purposes of ensuring proper fit within the scope of the special issue. Full manuscripts will undergo double-blind peer-review.

Tentative completion schedule:

Abstract submission deadline: 30 June 2022

Notification of abstract acceptance: 31 July 2022

Full manuscript deadline: 31 October 2022


Fuchs, S., Petrone, C., Krivokapić, J. & Hoole, P. (2013). Acoustic and respiratory evidence for utterance planning in German. Journal of Phonetics 41, pp. 29–47.

Gee, J.P. & Grosjean, F. (1983). Performance structures: A psycholinguistic and linguistic appraisal. Cognitive Psychology 15(4), pp. 411–458.

Gussenhoven, C. & Chen, A. (eds) 2020. The Oxford Handbook of Language Prosody. Oxford: OUP.

Lundholm Fors, K. 2015. Production and Perception of Pauses in Speech. PhD thesis Gothenburg University.

Dr. Jürgen Trouvain
Prof. Dr. Bernd Möbius
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Languages is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • speech pauses
  • prosodic boundaries
  • speech respiration
  • filler particles
  • pause perception
  • fluency
  • timing patterns
  • speaking rate
  • nonverbal vocalisations

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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