Windows on the mind
This paper investigates four different types of pauses in conversational narrative: the filled pauses <i>er</i> and <i>erm</i>, and short and long silent pauses. The study is based on the <i>Narrative Corpus</i> (NC), a recently created corpus of everyday narratives. The texts, which include both the narrative and some context, have been annotated for important textual components. The current analysis reveals that pauses are more frequent in conversational narrative than in general conversation. We suggest three factors that account for this high frequency: (i) the need for narrators, in the opening utterance of the story, to provide specific information to orient listeners to the situation in which the events unfolded, (ii) the need to coordinate narrative clauses to match the story events, and (iii) the preference of narrators to present speech, thought, emotion and gesture using direct-mode discourse presentation, which is more ‘dramatic’ but also more costly in terms of reference resolution.