One study had people sit in front of an array of objects, then grab and manipulate a specific sequence of objects, as directed by a computer voice. Sometimes the computer voice said things like, “Move the box.” Other times it added a filler word, saying, “Move the, uh, box.” The task wasn’t complex, and people had no trouble following the directions. Still, they were quicker to follow directions that involved objects they hadn’t yet manipulated when their instructions included an “uh.” To listeners, “uh” indicates that something new, which requires more mental processing on the part of the speaker, is about to be introduced. This helped the study participants put themselves in the right mindset of choosing from the as-yet unfamiliar objects. So even a word that’s no more than a grunt is helpful. Which is good, because all languages have verbal filler. American Sign Language has a sign for “um,” and most languages have some monosyllable that has no meaning but indicates a pause
This is probably one reason it can be so hard to digest a lot of academic and straight-news writing. And, uh, therefore a helpful writing tip.
Time to write a script to insert filler words into academic papers. “Subject B was a member of, like, the control group.”
Interesting. I’ll keep that in mind next time I’m training.
People say that I explain things in ways other people can easily understand when I talk. I’m starting to wonder if this has something to do with it - I use a hell of a lot of filler words/syllables.
It always bothers me when people act like using fillers is “bad”, and that a person’s speech is better if they can minimize their use of them.