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.
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.
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.
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?