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Parasitic words (fillers)


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Hello everybody,

Many people I know, and, unfortunately, I have to add myself to that list, use words which in my native Russian are called "parasites". Those are the words you use far too often. Probably the best English equivalent would be a "filler".

I'm pretty sure you've heard people speak in this way:

"Like, I don't know. He is, like, oh my God, it's great. But I'm not sure. Is it, like, really that good for him?"

Do you have the same problem, in your native or second language? Do you try to fight it? If you do, how do you go about it?

I know I tend to abuse "Well, ...", "cute" and "really" in English. And in Polish I  make diminutives far too often which is probably extremely annoying for some people.

Do you have some advice?

Thanks!

Ania

 

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"Like, I don't know. He is, like, oh my God, it's great. But I'm not sure. Is it, like, really that good for him?"
GUILTY. It's ridiculous how infectious filler words are. I was actually one of those people who thought that they're stupid.. but then I made a fatal mistake of using them ironically. I wanted to make fun of the stereotypical Starbucks-holding American white girls (sorry if any of you find that offensive, it was an inside joke with my group of friends. And no I'm not racist - they're white). That was my downfall. NEVER use anything ironically, no matter what. You WILL get used to it eventually and before you know it, you're using it like, all the time. 

Nowadays I just try to embrace it. It's kind useless to fight it because eventually you're gonna use it again anyway. It's one thing if the people around you (both in real life and online) don't use them because then it'll much be easier to stop using them, but since pretty much everyone use them everywhere, you're fully exposed to it and it's impossible to fight. It's like trying to swim against the current. 

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I can relate to that, Tyrell. These words just get stuck inside your head! It's so difficult to get rid of them, and then it's like some kind of a hydra: you can cut off one head, another one grows in its place :( Some time ago I noticed that my partner and I started to really "go heavy" on a couple of Polish fillers. So we decided to be on our guard and stop using them, once and for all. And what do you think? Now there is another word, or two, or three, that just creep into our conversations like some slimy insects. Urgggh. Those really ARE parasites!

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Hehe you made me laugh with that last bit, anna3101; '....like some slimy insects. Urgggh. Those really ARE parasites!"

Yea, I too am guilty as charged. Sometimes I just cringe listening to myself, yet I can't seem to put the breaks on LOL Some of my favourites are gosh, Oh my God, oh, really? lovely! etc I remember in my last job, I was even made fun of for my over use of Oh My God! The interesting thing is, I never even realised how over zealous I was with it until my colleagues pointed it out. After that, I'd catch myself and try to stop just in time. I know it's annoying to some people, but it just can't be helped LOL I've sort of resigned myself to it being a part of life (and even part of my character),  as many other people do it.

 

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That's funny, I've never heard of fillers as "parasites." I have this issue speaking in Filipino (native language) and English. In Filipino we usually say "parang" which is our word for like. What I can suggest is to stop to think of what you're gonna say first or just pause instead of saying the fillers

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It looks like most people have these words in their speech. I don't like fillers - but, on the hand, I think they are still better than "Erm...", "Hmm.." or just a long awkward pause. And surely it is much better to overuse "like" or "lovely" than swear words. Unfortunately, I often hear people talking on the streets that use "sh..." or "f..." as a filler and it sounds so awful.

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If i understood what are you talking about, it's about some words you use too much no? In my language some people (like me) tend to use the word "Praticamente", that literally means "in practice", i don't even know if it's used in english or others, but we use it before a phrase when you want to recount something that happened, or you want to describe a situation (or something in general). An exemple: "Praticamente è successo che...." which means "In practice it happened that..." but we put that word everywhere, sometimes in the middle of a phrase, maybe more than one time XD

Another word is "Tipo", that is used like Praticamente, literally it means "Type", in this case the meaning is something like "For example", but it doesn't have a real meaning, it's just a word that some use often. 

An example of this is: "Tipo è successo che.." which is "For example it happened that..." 

 

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Guilty as charged!

Oh yeah for sure. But then again, it's kinda fun I think! I mean as long as people are not overdoing it...it would enrich the conversation I'd say.

When I speak to very well-spoken people I sometimes feel like I'm not even talking to a person...while it does sound very nice and intellectual it makes me feel a little bit distant.

When people are using these "parasitic" words or phrases it makes them appear more human. There is more familiarity going on. That makes me feel closer.

But again - if it's being too overused it has exactly opposite effect on me.

Bottom line, it's fun, just don't overdo it!

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It looks like most people have these words in their speech. I don't like fillers - but, on the hand, I think they are still better than "Erm...", "Hmm.." or just a long awkward pause. And surely it is much better to overuse "like" or "lovely" than swear words. Unfortunately, I often hear people talking on the streets that use "sh..." or "f..." as a filler and it sounds so awful.

I have to agree with you on that one, anna3101! I'd much rather use  fillers over arm, hmm, and all those pregnant pauses. BUT it usually happens to me anyway, if I'm extremely nervous. I just seem to clam up, my brain shuts down and I struggle to article anything intelligent. That's why I HATE having to stand in front of an audience and giving a speech or presentation.

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I have to agree with you on that one, anna3101! I'd much rather use  fillers over arm, hmm, and all those pregnant pauses. BUT it usually happens to me anyway, if I'm extremely nervous. I just seem to clam up, my brain shuts down and I struggle to article anything intelligent. That's why I HATE having to stand in front of an audience and giving a speech or presentation.

Please, don't even mention presentations :) That's when all of my vocabulary and grammar disappears in a blink of an eye. I start to make extremely stupid mistakes, noticing them myself, feeling deeply ashamed and then making yet more of them. And my carefully prepared speech turns into "Erm... yeah... well, the thing is... ekhm... let's look at this chart. Here. This chart. Hmm. Well." Sometimes I wish the floor would just open up and swallow me away!

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Please, don't even mention presentations :) That's when all of my vocabulary and grammar disappears in a blink of an eye. I start to make extremely stupid mistakes, noticing them myself, feeling deeply ashamed and then making yet more of them. And my carefully prepared speech turns into "Erm... yeah... well, the thing is... ekhm... let's look at this chart. Here. This chart. Hmm. Well." Sometimes I wish the floor would just open up and swallow me away!

Hehe anna3101, I'm so glad I'm not the only one. The way you just described your situation, that's me right there LOL .....complete with feeling nauseous, shaky voice and sweaty palms; it's like I can't breathe! It's just so weird and not at all something I ever want to do. But sadly, it's part of our life and even more so if you work in a professional setting or go to school....YIKES! 

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