Shammur Absar Chowdhury, Evgeny A. Stepanov, Morena Danieli, Giuseppe Riccardi
Proceedings of the Workshop on Speech-Centric Natural Language Processing, EMNLP (2017): pp. 1-9
Publication year: 2017


Silence is an integral part of the most fre- quent turn-taking phenomena in spoken conversations. Silence is sized and placed within the conversation flow and it is co- ordinated by the speakers along with the other speech acts. The objective of this analytical study is twofold: to explore the functions of silence with duration of one second and above, towards informa- tion flow in a dyadic conversation utilizing the sequences of dialog acts present in the turns surrounding the silence itself; and to design a feature space useful for clustering the silences using a hierarchical concept formation algorithm. The resulting clus- ters are manually grouped into functional categories based on their similarities. It is observed that the silence plays an impor- tant role in response preparation, also can indicate speakers’ hesitation or indecisive- ness. It is also observed that sometimes long silences can be used deliberately to get a forced response from another speaker thus making silence a multi-functional and an important catalyst towards information flow.

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