Predicting conversational turns: Signers' and nonsigners' sensitivity to language-specific and globally accessible cues

C. de Vos, Marisa Casillas, Tom Uittenbogert, Onno Crasborn, Stephen C. Levinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
64 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Precision turn-taking may constitute a crucial part of the human endowment for communication. If so, it should be implemented similarly across language modalities, as in signed vs. spoken language. Here, in the first experimental study of turn-end prediction in sign language, we find support for the idea that signed language, like spoken language, involves turn-type prediction and turn-end anticipation. In both cases, turns like questions that elicit specific responses accelerate anticipation. We also show remarkable cross-modality predictive capacity: nonsigners anticipate signed turn ends surprisingly well. Finally, we show that despite nonsigners' ability to intuitively predict signed turn ends, early native signers do it much better by using their access to linguistic signals (here, question markers). As shown in prior work, question formation facilitates prediction, and age of sign language acquisition affects accuracy. The study thus sheds light on the kinds of features that may facilitate turn-taking universally, and those that are language-specific
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-62
Number of pages28
JournalLanguage
Volume98
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Turn-taking
  • Turn-end anticipation
  • Interactional Linguistics
  • Conversation Analysis
  • Discourse processing
  • Sign Language of the Netherlands
  • Gesture

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