10

In casual, spoken English, there are certain "filler-words" which are very common, but don't really add much to the actual meaning of the sentence. For example: "like, you know..., look....".

The same thing seems to exist in Italian. I want to a) confirm that this true, b) find out what the common filler-words are.

For example, are these common filler-words?:

  • guarda (look)
  • dai (come on now)
  • sai (you know)

What other Italian words or expressions would be in this category?

10

Yes, there are filler words. Those you mentioned actually can be used meaningfully ("dai" is an exhortation for example).

Aside from those you mentioned, other examples may be:

  • cioè
  • mah
  • mmm (though not exactly a word)
  • eh

and many others. An example dialogue using all of them:

A) Sai, ho visto Luca in giro con l'auto nuova.
B) Eh? Strano.
A) Perché?
B) Eh, guarda, non so se posso parlartene... cioè...
A) Dai...
B) Mmm, è che pensavo gli avessero tolto la patente... mah...
  • 1
    (I'm on a foreign keyboard most of the time, so I don't have the accented e letter at hand. Both cioe' and perche' actually are with accent, not apostrophe!) – Diego Martinoia Aug 26 '16 at 9:52
  • 1
    Accents are now fixed. – DaG Aug 26 '16 at 9:53
  • 3
    I am a devotee of the High Church of Nitpicking. – DaG Aug 26 '16 at 9:57
  • 2
    Don't forget "Boh"! – user84976 Aug 30 '16 at 12:13
5
  • Mah is used to convey uncertainty, as in: "Hai visto Marco ultimamente?" "Mah, sarà preso dallo studio" (I don't know where he is, but I think he might be busy studying) or "Cosa ne diresti se andassimo a correre domani?" "Mah, sono un po' stanco in questi giorni.." (I'm not interested in going jogging because I am tired. I want to be polite and not openly say "I don't want to come with you").
  • Insomma / cioè / are used to better explain a point or to get to the real point of the conversation: "Maria ha un po' di problemi a casa e al lavoro, e esce meno con gli amici. Insomma, è sparita dalla circolazione" or "Ti richiamo dopo. Cioè...quando avrò finito di studiare e mettere in ordine la casa".
  • Allora is kind of the equivalent of "so" in English. Used to start a conversation, to bring up a new topic or to call for attention: "Allora, come è andata in vacanza? Rcconta!" or "Allora, bambini, venite qui e mettetevi seduti" in cerchio".

NB "cioè" can sound like "c'è" in spoken language. I don't know if it is a northern Italy thing or not.

2

Insomma..., ecco una lista:

  • allora
  • cioè
  • dai
  • eh
  • guarda
  • insomma
  • mah
  • mmm
  • quindi
  • senti
  • sai

Ho aggiunto 'quindi' e 'senti'.

  • Anche "niente"... ho appena sentito una persona al telefono che lo diceva ogni due frasi: "Niente, adesso sto arrivando..." – CarLaTeX Sep 5 '16 at 5:28
0

I'll add the filler-words that I use the most, and which I also happen to find rather annoying (trying to get rid of this bad habit, with little success!):

  • Tipo or tipo che (the equivalent of like)
  • Praticamente or in pratica

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.