Definitions

Filler_(linguistics)

Filler (linguistics)

In linguistics, fillers are sounds or words that are spoken to fill up gaps in utterances. Different languages have different characteristic filler sounds; in English, the most common filler sounds are "uh" "er" and "um". "Like", "y'know", and "basically" are more prevalent among youths.

Filler words in different languages

  • In Danish, 'Øh' is one of the most common fillers.
  • In Filipino, ah, eh, ay, am are the most common fillers.
  • In French, euh is most common; other words used as fillers include quoi ("what"), bah (or ben), tu vois ("you see"), and eh bien (roughly "well", as in "well, I'm not sure")
  • In Hungarian, a common filler word is Izé.
  • In Italian, e is one of the most common fillers
  • In Japanese, common fillers include ehto, ano and nto.
  • In Korean, eung, eo, ge, and eum are commonly used as fillers.
  • in Lithuanian, ten (there) and čia (here) are common fillers.
  • In Mandarin Chinese speakers often say zhege ("this"), or "neige" ("that").
  • In Norwegian, common fillers are på en måte ("in a way"), ikke sant (literally "not true": "isn't it?" / "no kidding", "exactly"), and liksom ("like").
  • In Romanian, deci ("therefore") is common, especially in school. î (lengthened accordingly to the pause in speaking) is also very common, whereas păi ("hm, well") is widely used by almost anyone.
  • In Russian, fillers are called слова-паразиты (vermin words); the most common are "Э-э" (eh), "это" (this), "того" (that), "ну" (well), "значит" (it means), "как его" (what's it [called]), "типа" (like).
  • In Spanish, fillers are called muletillas; some of the most common in American Spanish are e, este ("this") and o sea ("that is").
  • In Swedish, fillers are called utfyllningsord; some of the most common are "öhm", "ja" ("yes"), "alltså" ("therefore", "thus"), "va", "liksom" and "typ" (both similar to the English "like").
  • In Urdu, 'yani' (meaning..), 'falan falan' (this and that; blah blah), 'umm' and 'aaa' are common fillers.
  • In Welsh, de or ynde is used as a filler (loosely the equivalent of "you know?" or "innit"). Ym... and Y... are used similarly to the English "Erm...".

A common pitfall among language learners is using fillers from their native tongue. For example, "Quiero una umm.... quesadilla". While less of a shibboleth, knowing the placeholder names (sometimes called kadigans) of a language (e.g. the equivalent of "thingy") can also be useful to attain fluency, such as the French "truc": Je cherche le truc qu'on utilise pour ouvrir une boîte ("I'm looking for the thingy that you use to open up a can").

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