Empty Pause
Symbol <P>

A pause, in general, is a temporary absence of any acoustic signal. When referring to spontaneous speech, it can be defined as a temporary silent hesitation or stop in speech.

When evaluating an empty pause, it is the general rule to use the length of time it takes for the speaker to articulate a 3-syllable word at his normal rate of speech. If this length of time fits within the pause in question, then it is a pause. If not, no pause is transcribed.

Watch out for people who talk at different speeds! Someone who talks faster will not have the same criteria for evaluating length of time between two utterances as a slow talker!

Rules for Transcribing the <P>

1. When a speaker has stopped or halted his speech

2. The pause is equivalent to the time it would take him to say one short word at his normal rate of speech

3. The pause is UNFILLED (or there are no vocalizations)

4. The pause or halt appears INSIDE an utterance or sentence

5. The break occurs after a speaker has erred - repeated or corrected himself

When NOT to use the <P>

1. If there is just a period [.] at the end of a sentence or utterance, it does not indicate that there should be a <P>

2. The pause is FILLED - there are vocalizations, human or non-human noises, hesitations or breathing heard inside the pause.

3. <P> cannot be used at the beginning or end of a turn.

Examples 1.So <uh> <P> what time did you say the meeting was ?
  2. Well, -/I was trying/- <P>I managed to get here just in time
  3.. yes, well <P> he did tell us that, <P>but I wasn't so sure .
  4. yeah , next monday , this will be <P> ready for processing .