Why say anything, while hesitating ,during speaking?

In conversation, or public speaking, why do people say anything while hesitating?

In conversation, when a speaker stops talking, that’s often a cue to listeners that he, or she, is finished, that others may now reply.

But, sometimes the speaker isn’t finished, a thought or two must still be translated into words. In such cases, the “er” and “um” are space- fillers, cues to listeners that there’s more to come, shortly. These sounds help the speaker keep the floor, so to speak, not unlike draping a coat over a seat to prevent others from sitting there.

As to why we utter “er” or “um” as opposed to “erk” and “oomp”, well, that’s harder to explain. “Er” in English , is a transcription of the phonetic schwa found in unstressed syllables of English words (such as the vowel sound in the first syllable of “potato).

In traditional phonetics, this was called the neutral sound because it is the vowel sound produced when the mouth is not in gear, that is, not tensed to say any of the formed vowels such as “e.” The “um” sound is more difficult to explain, unless it is just a bad transcription of the same neutral sound with a constant that closes the mouth in preparation for another real word.

Incidentally, “ers” and “ums” are not universal mumblings.

Speakers of other languages hesitate on other ways.

In Latin languages, for example, the pure sound of the vowel “e” is often spoken.

Mandarin Chinese speakers often say “zhege zhege zhege” (this, this, this) when pausing between real communications.

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