What's the Latest?

Recent studies indicate there is real linguistic and psychological significance to seemingly useless words such as "um", "like", and "you know," according to the Journal of Language and Social Psychology. "Um" and "uh" are known as "filled pauses." "You know," "I mean," and "like" are termed "discourse markers." The recent findings, taken from five previous language studies, suggests that filled pauses "may inform listeners that the speaker needs a pause to collect his or her thoughts or block the listener from taking the speaker’s turn away." Scientists believe its a reflection of "the processing of complex thoughts."

What's the Big Idea?

Further analysis looked at how these words are used across wider populations, and whether some ages, genders, and personalities are more inclined to use them than others. Younger college females loved discourse markers, but filled pauses occurred at similar rates across gender and age groups. "The possible explanation for this association is that conscientious people are generally more thoughtful and aware of themselves and their surroundings. When having conversations with listeners, conscientious people use discourse markers, such as I mean and you know, to imply their desire to share or rephrase opinions to recipients."

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