In speech, it is common for people to use filler words and phrases, such as "like" or "you know" or "I mean" or "do you know what I mean." Often, we use these phrases when we are thinking about what to say as well as to express hesitation, approximation, and uncertainty.
This trend is common in Norwegian as well as English and other languages. In a YouTube video titled "Totally, Like, Whatever," Taylor Mali laments the loss of declarative sentences delivered with confidence and conviction. In a recent blog post titled "På en måte lissom–ikke sant?," Svein Tore Marthinson expresses his irritation over how often such filler words are used.
Hvor mange ganger hører du frasene "på en måte", "lissom" og "ikke sant" i løpet av en dag? Hvor mange ganger bruker du dem selv? Litt for ofte? Da er vi på en måte to. Minst. Antagelig mange flere. Sikkert flere millioner, lissom. Ikke sant?
The three words that Marthinson identifies are:
- på en måte: in a way
- lissom / liksom: like
- ikke sant (literally "not true"): Isn't it? / No kidding. Exactly.
Hasund describes why this word is used so often, especially by teenage girls.
Distansen er viktig her. Distansen er et grunnleggende trekk ved det postmoderne samfunnet. Vi får verden inn i stua gjennom tv og radio, men det ligger likevel en distanse til ting som skjer der ute. Liksom er et uttrykk for meningsoppløsning i både språket og i samfunnet. Tilværelsen består av fryktelig mange valg, vi blir ofte usikre, og denne usikkerheten smitter over på språket vårt. Og for å snakke om jentene: De vil gjerne være litt forsiktige, ikke sant. Spesielt med hverandre.
Hasund asserts that distance is one of the main characteristics of the postmodern society. In a world where there is an overwhelming number of choices, the word "like" is an expression of the uncertainty that we feel. As a result, we want to express ourselves in a more careful and reserved way.
In the article, "'Ikke sant?' as a response token in Norwegian conversation," researcher Jan Svennevig explores the changing meanings of the phrase "ikke sant" in Norwegian speech. Before this phrase used to mean "isn't it?" or "Don't you think?," but now it can also mean "exactly" or "no kidding."He states, "It is somewhat surprising that a tag used to appeal for agreement is turned into a freestanding response used to express agreement." Svennevig bases his analysis on a collection of speech samples from the NoTa corpus of conversational Norwegian at the University of Oslo. This corpus consists of of 1 million words of
transcribed conversations and interviews with 166 persons from the Oslo area.
What filler words and phrases do you hear and/or use yourself in conversations with other people in your native language? Have you heard a native Norwegian say "lissom", "på en måte", or "ikke sant"? What are other filler words that Norwegians use?