Thursday, March 19, 1998 at 18:23:22

I had never really given much thought to filled pauses before other than noticing that they are extremely annoying when hearing others speak! I am currently living in Finland (from Canada) and let me tell you, these Finns sure do have an abundance of filled pauses in their language!! I did at first think that they were actually real words, but have since progressed to actually using them when I speak Finnish.

- SV

Thanks for briefly relating your experience of filled pauses in Finland.  I'm interested in hearing more.  I wonder if you could give me some examples of the kind of sounds used to fill pauses in Finnish.  Also, I would be curious to know which sounds created comprehension problems for you as an early learner of the language.   In the early days, did you use your native English fillers (uh, um) when speaking Finnish?  Did it create problems for the native Finns? Finally, I wonder how your use of Finnish filled pauses is taken by native speakers:  do they 'notice' them?

well, what can i tell you about these finnish filled pauses. first of all, 2 of the most common ones are '・・ which sounds sort of like 'eu'.  actually, i really don't know which vowel combinations would be the same in english.  i'll try describing it to you, see if this makes any sense.  say 'uh' but from further back in your mouth, like from the back of your tongue, and put a higher pitch on it. it's basically the finnish equivalent of 'uh' or 'um'.  another word which is commonly used is 'tota' (soft o and a).  that's used sort of the same way as 'like' (when there is no purpose attached to it). this word was very confusing for me because there is another word spelled 'totta' which means 'truth' and so i was like, 'why is everyone always talking about the truth, this makes no sense!' there is a distinct pronounciation difference between those words though.

when i speak finnish i do use 'uh' and 'um' but i don't think it causes any problems because most of the people i speak to know english very well and understand what i mean.   i have started using the '・・ sound, as well as 'tota', but as for others noticing me using them, i have no idea.  one reason i do use these filled pauses is because the finnish language is so difficult and complex grammatically and sometimes i just don't know the correct ending for  the words.  while i'm struggling to figure it out, i'm like, '・・ en  tied' which is 'uh, i don't know!'

Previous ] Home ] Up ] Next ]

send feedback

This site is maintained by Ralph L. Rose
Last Revised: 99/08/26

Note! This is the original FPRC ca. 1998. It is made available for archival purposes only. Click here to return to the current FPRC.