01.12.2021

There is a question: why do we say “um” before some words

If you are paying close attention to the purity of their speech and the speech of others, you may have noticed that inserting a parasite (or, if you prefer, natural voice bundle) “uh” usually appears before nouns. Have you noticed that? Well, now you just pay attention to it. Of course, if the right scientists who found out that everything is just so and not otherwise.

The new study, which was able to establish that the average person with the average same rate of speech is more likely to use “um” as a conjunction before the noun rather than before the verb, tells Live Science. At the thoughts of scientists, this is because people tend visualisation of nouns, they say that slows down the flow of speech. Verbs, in turn, require less time to “see” them, so that “uh” happens much less frequently.

It is known that the speed of human speech is affected by a range of factors, including frequency of use and znachimosti words, the researchers write in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “In fact, scientists had previously observed that the pause preceding an unfamiliar or complex words, reflect the comparative difficulty of planning these words,” adds the study’s lead author Frank Seifert (Frank Seifart), a linguist from the University of Amsterdam (University of Amsterdam).

Note that in the study, Dutch scientists analyzed thousands of audio recordings and 288 848 words in nine different languages, recorded in Europe, North America, Mexico, Siberia, the Himalayas, the Amazon rainforest and the Kalahari desert. It also allowed to say that in all the nine languages of the pause is silent or filled with sound such as “uh” – 60% more often in front of nouns when compared to verbs. A more thorough analysis showed that people are twice as likely to resort to sound-substitution in front of nouns in comparison with verbs, if both words are difficult or unfamiliar.

The scientists added that in informal speech nouns are usually used only when they add a new or unexpected information (otherwise they are omitted or replaced by pronouns). That is why we all need a little more “time for planning” to make a noun, even if the word is not so difficult to make him actually have to think about.

The results of the study indicate that even though the difference between the languages concerns the grammatical structure or cultural context, some speech features are universal to all people. And fun as it may sound banal “uh” in a sense, brings us closer to the idea of a man of the world – at least if we’re talking about language.

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