Talk is silver, silence is golden: A cross-cultural study on the use of pauses in speech

Birgit Endrass, Matthias Rehm, Elisabeth André and Yukiko I. Nakano

erschienen 2008 "Workshop on Enculturating conversational interfaces by socio-cultural aspects of communication"


In this paper we examine the usage of pauses in speech. Thereby we concentrate on cultural differences with the aim to build a computational model for virtual agents later. By adapting the agents' conversation management behavior to cultural background, we hope to get a better acceptance in a given culture. Therefore we have a closer look at the occurrence of pauses in speech with their features like length or emplacement. To ground our model in empirical data, we analyzed the occurrences of pauses in speech in the CUBE-G video corpus, recorded in the two participating cultures Germany and Japan. In a preliminary study we observed the number of pauses that occurred in videos of approximately five minutes duration. First we took into account pauses that lasted for more than 1 second and later only those out of them that lasted for over 2 seconds. By comparing the two cultures, we found out that Japanese subjects used significantly more pauses for both lengths than German subjects.