I had a high school English teacher who counted "ums" "ahs" "likes" "I means" and "you knows" during speeches. Every time we uttered one of these "filler" words, we got points deducted. How, like, unfair! My teacher, along with many others, thought that using these filler words turned off listeners and made speakers sound unprepared, dumb, or anxious (or all of the above). Well, Mrs. Strict Language Nazi can shut it, because a new study has shown that using these words to fill in pauses in conversation really isn't so terrible.

This study from the University of Texas at Austin suggests that although many people frown upon "filler" words, those who use them often are actually more likely to be thoughtful and deliberate.

They examined 263 transcriptions from five different studies,and found that these words were "more common among women, younger participants, and more conscientious people," and that they could be used as "a potential social and personality marker."

The researchers explained their findings in The Journal of Language and Social Psychology:

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. Thus it is expected that the use of discourse markers may be used to measure the degree to which people have thoughts to express.


So like, if people give you crap, for like, saying "like" all the time, sorry not sorry-- you're just more thoughtful than are. Or maybe you're a valley girl. I mean, that is a lot of "likes". Oh gosh, I just "I mean" ed it. I must be super thoughtful and conscientious too...

More From 97.9 WGRD