Verbal crutches in other than American English

It seems that many, many people from the most inarticulate high school jock to the President of the United States will pepper their comments with “y’know” as a filler, or for whatever other reason. Another, perhaps dated, word is like, popular with, like, teenage girls, who, like, say “like” like every other, like, word. I’ve also noticed more and more people on the radio saying “I mean” when it has no real meaning.

Are there similar words or phrases that fill other languages or English spoken in other parts of the world? Surely this isn’t an exclusively American oral tradition, is it?

My dad, Canadian, 75 years old adds “type of situation” unnecessarily. “Well , mom and I are going to drive into Victoria tomorrow. A check out the hospital and the clinics and see what stores are nearby, type of situation.” Or “Well, your brother says he and his wife have colds, runny noses, coughing, feverish type of situation, so we won’t be heading there after all. Just stay close to home, and maybe go to the farmers market type of situation this weekend.” I made the mistake of pointing out this verbal crutch to my son, (partly to explain what a verbal crutch or tic is) and now he gets the giggles whenever he hears my dad say it. My son is now really annoyed I told him!

My mother and her sister mark changes of subject or the beginning of speech with ah, ¡pero calla!, “do shut up!”. Or, in Catalan, ai, però no’m diguis!, “oh, but don’t tell me!”

We’re in a rare moment of silence and then “¡ah! ¡pero calla! blahblahyadda”. Or, she’s talking about whatever, that subject runs out of steam, and the switch to something else is again marked by that verbal crutch. The rest of the family has been known to reply “:rolleyes: I wasn’t talking…”

The Spanish-from-Spain equivalent of Valley Girl, pijo*, is marked both by intonation and by being peppered with o sea (normally it would mean “that is” but it’s completely meaningless in that context). I’ve told before the story of getting a manager who was as pijo as can be and how another coworker and I seriously considered turning meetings with him into a drinking game.

  • If you look in the dictionary, it says that pijo means “despectively, someone who copies the manners and dress of a higher class” or “penis”.

Other latiguillos (their Spanish name, “little whips”) include bueno (good, well), vamos a ver (let’s see)… there’s lots of them, and like that o sea they may be dialect or register-specific.

In England, “actually”.

I think the more common term for these is verbal “fillers”, rather than crutches. There a Wiki article giving fillers in dozens of different languages.

ETA: Actually (what can I say, I’m English) I now see you used the word filler in your subsequent description.

An interesting point from the Wiki article:

Plenty of these in French. Off the top of my head:

  • Bon / bien: More or less used like “well”.

  • Hein: At the end of a sentence. Expresses disbelief (with a suggestion that the person repeat what they’ve just said) or insistance (N’en parle pas, hein ! - Don’t talk about it !)

  • Tu vois (= you see): Works pretty much the same way as “you know”.

  • Quoi: At the end of a sentence. Insistance (Mais ne vas pas là, quoi ! - Come on, don’t go there !)

  • Euh (= … er… ): Pure filler. Can get really annoying.

  • Mais enfin, often shortened to M’enfin: Expresses surprise and annoyance/panic. Used to great effect by Gaston Lagaffe.

And here’s a sample dialog that I’ve just made up:

*- Bon, on est dans la merde, hein !

  • Euh, pourquoi ?
  • M’enfin, quand papa va rentrer, il va se rendre compte qu’on a chipoté à sa voiture. Il va être furieux, tu vois, quoi.

(- Well, we’re in some deep sh*t here !

  • Er… why ?
  • Look, when dad will come back home, he’ll see that we’ve messed up with his car. He’s going to be, like, furious, you see.)

Nava, that was a really informative post – thanks.

In Mexico, overuse of o sea is associated with well-to-do, young-to-middle-aged women from Mexico City (plus maybe Monterrey and Guadalajara).

Pues is common throughout Mexico, but is especially heard among several indigenous groups, such as the highland Maya of Chiapas state.

Este is heard a lot as well, almost anywhere.

When I was in college, I was in my second semester German class, taught by a grad student. She would end her sentences with the equivalent of “et cetera, et cetera” (I can say what she said, but I’m not confident enough in how to spell it correctly) - anyway, it was most obnoxious, as was she. I always got the feeling that she was trying to impress us. I wasn’t impressed.

Another - can’t believe I forgot it - is basically. I don’t think its usage is as widespread as y’know, but there are far too many people who abuse it. I was in a particularly boring training class some years back, taught by a man who had to put *basically *or *essentially *into every sentence - sometimes more than once. I started counting, and while I no longer remember the exact number, over the course of a couple of hours, he used both of them hundreds of times. Lucky for me, there was no test at the end because I had no idea what he was telling us.

Also “sort of.” This one annoys me, because it sounds like the speaker is uncertain, or afraid to commit to saying anything definitive. Everything they say starts to sound mushy and tentative.

FairyChatMom, I’m guilty of overusing “basically,” only when I have an audience (e.g., teaching a class). While I doubt I say it as often as your instructor did, I do need to cut back – thanks for the reminder.

The one that I’m familiar is the Chinese 那个 (na4 ge). Some people use it a lot when they talk!

Oh God, ¿verdad? - “true?”

So we were going to the movies, true? and I wanted to watch the baby movie, true? but it’s not on until the weekend, true? and there is the animals one, true? but I wasn’t really sure because it’s cartoons, true?..

For some reason people who use that particular one seem to really, really, really like it, true?

Canadians, eh? They don’t add don’t use any verbal crutches, eh?

I was going to mention this! In Mexico it’s not a regional thing, but rather in any crowd there will be one person who does this, ad nauseam.

Mona Lisa Simpson, have you seen Woody Allen’s Broadway Danny Rose? The Allen character has that same verbal tic, whenever he’s caught in a jam – see this trailer at 0:45.

Pues, es verdad!

I fall into using *pues * a lot speaking with my very Colombian Sra. Iggy.

Si dios permite (if God allows) is what she uses constantly with me.

**Nava *- my brother used to end sentences with right?*, driving us all crazy. I think he finally quit as he moved up the corporate ladder.

This isn’t another language but another dialect of English. I have an Irish friend who ends sentences with ‘alright.’

“Yeah I can see your point, alright.”
“Yeah I imagine these two factors are directly linked, alright.”

I think it’s cute.

Sent from my Nexus 5X using Tapatalk

Another one I’ve heard in British English is “…at the end of the day.” Maddening when over used at the end of the day.