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Taking the floor on time: Delay and deferral in children’s turn taking

Casillas, M. (2014). Taking the floor on time: Delay and deferral in children’s turn taking. In I. Arnon, M. Casillas, C. Kurumada, & B. Estigarribia (Eds.), Language in Interaction: Studies in honor of Eve V. Clark (pp. 101-114). Amsterdam: Benjamins.
A key part of learning to speak with others is figuring out when to start talking and how to hold the floor in conversation. For young children, the challenge of planning a linguistic response can slow down their response latencies, making misunderstanding, repair, and loss of the floor more likely. Like adults, children can mitigate their delays by using fillers (e.g., uh and um) at the start of their turns. In this chapter I analyze the onset and development of fillers in five children’s spontaneous speech from ages 1;6–3;6. My findings suggest that children start using fillers by 2;0, and use them to effectively mitigate delay in making a response.
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