Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info

Ask-A-Linguist Message Details

Subject: Technical term for a crutch word?
Question: I was wondering if there is a term in linguistics for the following: whenever a non-

native speaker begins acquiring another language, they often repeat a simple

transitional phrase or word in this non-native language when they are flustered,

nervous or are still cross-translating into their native language.

For example, I often use ''that is to say'' or ''就是说'' unconsciously when I'm struggling

to explain myself. And I've noticed that many other non-native speakers will repeat

phrases like ''the point is''; ''how to say''; ''Indeed''; or ''so on and so forth'' several times

while they formulate responses (in English).

Is there a term in linguistics that describes this pattern?


Reply: Sometimes they're called "fillers", which can be used as stalling devices when you're
trying to think of what to say. If it's a phrase, we sometimes say that it's "formulaic," a
way of using fixed chunks of language to reuce the cognitive load on production.
Reply From: Susan D Fischer      click here to access email
Date: 29-Jul-2013
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Technical term for a crutch word?    Madalena Cruz-Ferreira     (29-Jul-2013)

Back to Most Recent Questions