Linguistic functions of head nods
Loredana Cerrato
TMH-Dept of Speech Music and Hearing, KTH Stockholm, Sweden
[email protected]
The aim of the present study is to investigate which communicative functions head nods
can have in spoken Swedish.
By nod is here meant a vertical down-up movement of the head.
To classify the communicative functions of head nods 10 short video-recorded Swedish
dialogues were analysed and labeled. The labels used are referred to the different
communicative functions that the head nods carry out in the given context.
The results show that the most common function carried out by head nod is that of
feedback. Beside feedback function, head nods can be produced to signal turn taking,
focus and emphasis, to give affirmative responses and to show courtesy.
The visual information carried out by head nods in spoken communicative interactions is
without doubt extremely important; therefore it should be exploited in the field of humanmachine interfaces. This could be done by integrating head nods in the design and
development of embodied conversational agents. Thanks to the production of head nods,
embodied conversational agents might result more effective and appear more natural
during their interactions with human beings.