The Utilization of Filler Words in Relation to Age and Gender

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The Utilization of Filler Words in Relation to Age and Gender

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2024-04-17

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Filler words play a pivotal role in human communication. This review explores the multifaceted nature of these words through analyzing the early development of filler words as well as their correlation with age and gender. Filler words consist of two subcategories; filled pauses and discourse markers. Examples include ‘um’, ‘uh’, ‘I mean’, ‘like’, and ‘you know’. These words can have distinct and important functions in conversation, contrary to the common association of filler words with disfluency in speech or anxiety. Research suggests that the social factors of age and gender greatly influence filler word usage, as younger females tend to utilize these words and sounds more frequently than any other social group. While societal norms may predispose women to exhibit more accommodating speech patterns with the use of filler words, deeper analysis reveals more complex explanations. These explanations for younger people as well as women using these words more frequently than others include, but are not limited to, the natural maturity of speech with age, heightened awareness of semantic meanings, and a more sophisticated use of the English language. Research gaps in comparing the use of filler words across different languages and with non-native speakers as well as filler words in different conversational settings is advancing. By unpacking the complexities of age and gender in relation to language, this review contributes to a deeper understanding of language dynamics and societal norms. With the recognition of these linguistic patterns in certain societal groups, we can create more inclusive communication between people and better understand human interaction as a whole.

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University Honors Capstone project

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Ruschy, Sarah A. (2024). The Utilization of Filler Words in Relation to Age and Gender. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/262342.

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