Sunday, March 10, 2013

Filler Words

I have not had the honor of having awkward conversations with many silences in a lot of countries. Spain is an exception, and over the course of many awkward silences, I've learned that this country's language has a ton of filler words that don't mean anything:

Vale. Most like the equivalent of "OK" but if you listen to any Spaniard, it's said almost as often as people breath out.

Pues, nada. The awkward conversation ender go-to. When there is nothing left to say, you literally say "well, nothing." This would probably be extremely rude in many other cultures.

Bueno. Mostly means "good". Sometimes means "well". A good variation is "bueno bueno bueno" which means, you guessed it, nothing

Sabes. Translates as "you know" but used even when you don't know.

Vamos. Used as a filler word. For me, I think the best translation into English is a combination between "come on" or "look here" and "well".

O sea. It means "or it could be". There's an episode of the Simpsons when Lisa pretends to be cool for a summer and she learns to speak the language of the cool kids: "or like, totally" which is the same as "o sea, total."

En plan ___. One of my friends, when she's searching for a word, will unconsiously fill her pauses with "en plan...". For example, "So this girl went out umm.... very fashionably" would be "Pues, esta chica saliĆ³ en plan... de moda". Don't tell her she does this because she says she hates people who say this.

Venga. It kind of means "come". If conversation winds down at lunch and everyone has finished, you'll say "Venga... vamos" which translates to "OK, well I feel awkward now. Let's go." A second usage, which makes much less sense to me is when it's used at the end of phone conversations. After running out of things to say, or if you want to get off the phone but the other person won't stop talking, you say "Venga... hasta luego!" or even just "Venga" which translates to... nothing. My favorite part is that Spaniards always laugh while saying venga on the phone. "Jajaja vengaaaajajaja." Weird.

So the question is, when Google Glass comes to Spain, what will it be programmed to respond to? "Pues nada, Glass" maybe?