The acoustic characteristics of um and uh in spontaneous Canadian English

The present study investigates and compares the acoustic characteristics of uh [ə] and um [əm] spontaneous speech. The data comes from a corpus of Western Canadian conversational spontaneous speech. Measures of duration, fundamental frequency, F1 and F2 were extracted from 1,048 instances of um and uh. Results indicate that longer durations occurred when markers preceded silent pauses. Um was found to have higher F1 and lower F2 than uh. F0 was overall lower for um in comparison to uh. These results provide a preliminary understanding of um and uh as markers in spontaneous Canadian English. Canadian English shows a similar proportion of um over uh usage in comparison to American and British English. Findings on vowel duration show no significant difference between um and uh. Differences in f0, F1 and F2 provide additional indication of how um and uh are different.

Morin, G. & Tucker, B.V., The acoustic characteristics of um and uh in spontaneous Canadian English, in The 10th Workshop on Disfluency in Spontaneous Speech (DiSS 2021), St. Denis, France, August 2021, pp. 53-58.