ORCID Identifier(s)


Graduation Semester and Year

Spring 2024



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Linguistics



First Advisor

Laurel Stvan

Second Advisor

Cynthia Kilpatrick

Third Advisor

Ivy Hauser


Human social behavior relies on communication, and much of that communication occurs in conversation. A crucial feature of conversation is turn-taking, the (usually) orderly pattern of listening and speaking that humans employ in conversation. In analyzing details of actual conversations, Sacks, Schegloff & Jefferson (1974) launched the field of Conversation Analysis by outlining a set of observations of turn-taking behavior and by proposing a list of rules to explain that behavior. They noted that the vast majority of transitions from one speaker to another happen with very little gap or overlap (Sacks, Schegloff & Jefferson 1974: 700–701). More recently, researchers have begun to quantify gaps and overlaps. For example, Stivers et al. (2009) found that the most frequent transitions in ten different languages occurred between 0 and 200 ms.

Within this context of rapid turn-taking, what are some of the factors that affect gaps and overlaps in conversation? Although not employing Conversation Analysis, this dissertation complements that methodological approach by examining some of the possible factors, including the participants’ metadiscursive use of discourse markers, what language the conversation occurs in, the time course of the conversation, and the amount of telecommunications latency of the conversation. Among its many contributions, this dissertation proposes a set of metrics for analyzing turn-taking practices in audio corpora and introduces computer code for analyzing turn-taking behavior based on acoustic data alone. In addition, it finds that participants in conversations increase their gap lengths when latency is introduced and maintain those longer gap lengths once latency is removed. This finding illustrates the remarkable adaptability and responsiveness of the human turn-taking system.


turn-taking, corpus linguistics, discourse analysis, discourse markers (DMs), openings, closings, cross-linguistic study, speech sounds analysis, telecommunications latency


Discourse and Text Linguistics | Phonetics and Phonology


Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.



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