Japanese “um”

I was reading in article in New Scientist recently about the use of “um” in English conversations. There is a general prejudice against people using “um” but research apparently shows is it a key filler word and actually highlights to the listener about a change in topic or break in the conversation that aids understanding. Apparently many languages have “um” in spoken usage. But does Japanese? I’ve tried listening to conversations and I couldn’t identify an “um” or equivalent but my Japanese is pretty poor. For those on here that are fluent - does an “um” exist in Japanese?

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Usually えっと (or えぇぇっと, and so on)

Or あの (or あのぅぅぅ, you get the idea)

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Uh, yeah, in moderation. When every other word is some sort of filler, a politician absolutely deserves a thorough lambasting.

And, as usual, Leebo got here with the answer first.

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うーん、えー、なんだろう…

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But not ええとう?Can you safely elongate the TOO sound or does it become a different word? Or it just isn’t done?

I’ve heard まあ and まあね used as filler a lot in conversation, but they’re more like “well…yeah”. I’ve heard it repeated like “まあ, まあ… ね” when hesitating or making time to think about an idea before confirming it.


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That happens, too. I think it’s pretty personal.

And then there’s EtoEto, but who knows when people will be able to start using it. :wink:

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えっとね to add to the above

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You can also use なんだっけ on a more casual basis have to nuance of “it’s on the tip of my tongue but having a hard time remembering”

of put さ often for “like” (also used in a casual conversation)

In summary of everyones’ replies: Japanese has a crap ton of conversation fillers.

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