Tag Archives: fillers

Fillers

Speakers of all languages pepper their listeners with fillers, those sounds and words that take up little space and allow the speakers to figure out where they’re going. Here are some language-specific fillers:

Britain— spelled er (but pronounced uh)
France—euh
Israel (Hebrew speakers)—ehhh
Holland—uh and um
Germanyah and ahm
Serbia and Croatia—ovay
Turkey—mmmm
Sweden—eh, ah, aaah, m, mm, hmm, ooh, a and oh (very creative, no?)
Norway—e, eh, m, hm

Sometimes fillers are more than just a sound; they are complete words:

English speakerswell, you know, I mean, so
Turkey—shey, shey shey, which means thing
Mandarin Chinese—neige, meaning that
Cantonese speakers in Hong Kong—tsik hai, which means equal
Wichita Indian—kaakiri, meaning something

It seems that um is ubiquitous, found in every language.
My information comes from, um, the book titled Um, written by, um, Michael Erard.

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Nix Actually

Have you noticed people relying on actually to fill their sentences?  If we can assume what you are saying is truthful, you have no need to add that word of assurance.

On one of the Sunday morning talk shows yesterday, Randi Weingarten, the current head of the American Federation of Teachers (she is also a labor leader and an attorney), used the word so often that she had me yelling it back at her every time I heard it. It’s an annoying verbal tic that adds no content.

Years ago, the young granddaughter of a friend of mine was using actually repeatedly.  When my friend asked her what the word meant, her granddaughter thought hard and then answered, “Actually, I don’t know.”

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