A first investigation of the timing of turn-taking in Ruuli

Tuarik Buanzur, Margaret Zellers, Saudah Namyalo, Alena Witzlack-Makarevich

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Turn-taking behavior in conversation is reported to be universal among cultures, although the language-specific means used to accomplish smooth turn-taking are likely to differ. Previous studies investigating turn-taking have primarily focused on languages which are already heavily-studied. The current work investigates the timing of turn-taking in question-response sequences in naturalistic conversations in Ruuli, an under-studied Bantu language spoken in Uganda. We extracted sequences involving wh-questions and polar questions, and measured the duration of the gap or overlap between questions and their following responses, additionally differentiating between different response types such as affirmative (i.e. type-conforming) or negative (i.e. non-type-conforming) responses to polar questions. We find that the timing of responses to various question types in Ruuli is consistent with timings that have been reported for a variety of other languages, with a mean gap duration between questions and responses of around 259 ms. Our findings thus emphasize the universal nature of turn-taking behavior in human interaction, despite Ruuli's substantial structural differences from languages in which turn-taking has been previously studied.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)621-625
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association, INTERSPEECH
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes
Event19th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication, INTERSPEECH 2018 - Hyderabad, India
Duration: 2 Sep 20186 Sep 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 International Speech Communication Association. All rights reserved.


  • Bantu
  • Questions
  • Ruuli
  • Spontaneous speech
  • Urn-taking


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