Friday, February 27, 1998 at 05:52:31

Interesting page!  I remember people citing Ronald Regan as the king of Filled Pauses.  However I recall people referring to his use of them as "thought islands" or an attempt to construct more dialog in between thoughts. My teen-age nieces constantly use the word "like" randomly in thier day-to-day speech. Would you consider this to be a filled pause, or is it another phenomenon?

- DC

I don't remember Reagan's filled pause use very well, but I do remember his idiosyncratic latency in responding to questions:  "Well,..."  This might be called a filled pause although some research suggests there is a difference between the pauses that occur at the beginning of a speaker's turn (when one is preparing the entire response) and those which occur in the middle (which address immediate production needs--the following word or phrase).  'Like' has been identified as a lexicalized filled pause by some researchers. However, it's excessive use by youth of the 1990s suggest some sociolinguistic force:  that is, the use of like establishes solidarity among these youth in the same way that various slang expressions have united the youth of previous generations.

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