Am I a cannibal if I say: “let’s eat Grandma” ...
... or do I mean something else?
Speaking clearly also means pausing when you speak. A short break in a sentence not only gives the speaker time to understand your statement, it can also clarify or even change its meaning.
Did I really intend to eat Grandma or was it only an invitation for lunch: “Let’s eat, Grandma!”?
Pauses are also ambiguous and depending on their length, the context and the speaker’s intention they can indicate need to play for time, indecision, or separate two different ideas.
Where a pause is useful for clear speaking, good writing - and therefore punctuation - is inextricably linked to defining where pauses should be in a written sentence.
Look what happens if the punctuation is changed:
- “A woman without her man, is nothing”.
- “A woman: without her, man is nothing”.
Have a listen to these 10 sentences https://pronunciationstudio.com/importance-pause/ and see what introducing a pause can do to change meaning and how the changes in meaning are clarified using punctuation.
Here are some examples in German: http://de.webfail.com/60d4d22f6ad
It would be easy for translation purposes if all languages function in the same way. Sometimes it’s possible, but not always. Trying to transfer “let’s eat Grandma” into German will work, but the second example is less successful.
And, spoken pauses may be longer or shorter depending on the culture. Americans tend to avoid having too many silences. Breaks are often used to show interest or give constant feedback and can include fillers like: “uhhumm, yup, yeah, or sure”. This may make conversation difficult or lead to misunderstandings when talking with Nordic or Finnish partners. Silence is regarded as a valuable part of the conversation and words are carefully selected to demonstrate respect.