Pause Fillers Used By Foreigners Speaking Russian


The Russian discourse of foreigners has not been studied within structural linguistics; most researchers develop methodological approaches to improve the effectiveness of teaching foreigners. This article presents an analysis of samples of oral Russian discourse of foreign students studying Russian as a foreign language at Kalmyk State University, features of an unprepared discourse are identified. The authors pay attention to the use of pause fillers, which have national characteristics, and accompany the speech process, characterizing the speaker and the level of proficiency in RFL. Pause fillers are used in oral speech regardless of the education level, they are not parasitic words, and can be copied from the speech of native speakers. The relevance of the study of oral Russian discourse of foreigners is due to the need to analyze specific phenomena that occur during the formation of a secondary linguistic personality. The inclusion of pause fillers depends on speaker’s nationality. On the one hand, the use of pause fillers helps a foreigner to cope with stress factors when speaking a foreign language. On the other hand, pause fillers can be copied from the speech of Russian native speakers. 

Keywords: Russian languageoral speech, language personality, pause fillersRussian


Oral colloquial speech is primary, it has a set of tools expressing thoughts, communicative intents. In oral communication, communicants understand the situation whose details do not require additional designation. To express thoughts, emotions and attitudes to the speech subject, one can use poses, gestures, facial expressions, pauses, repetitions, i.e. non-verbal means of communication, which determine the specifics of contact communication (Graudina, 1977).

Temporal features of creating oral and written statements differ. The author can re-read a written text, correct errors, adjust its composition. Oral statements are created without preparation, the author can abruptly switch from one thought to another, interrupt, make unjustified repetitions, make speech, grammar, orthoepic errors, which can lead to misunderstanding (Romanova & Filippov, 2016).

Foreign students come to KalmSU from different countries (Mongolia, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte - d ' Ivoire, Benin, Senegal, Zambia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and others.). The training program is divided into several areas: preparatory department, RFL courses, internship training (Golubeva, 2018; Golubeva & Badmaeva, 2019).

Problem Statement

The educational discourse involves the official communication when there are two participants opposed to each other: a teacher and a student. In the educational discourse, colloquial units, including pause placeholders can be used (Sirotinina, 1976; Viktorova, 2014).

Oral speech functions in interpersonal non-mediated communication. In generating unprepared oral utterances, one can observe the transition of thoughts into a verbalized form, thinking captures the first reactions in words, while in living communication, the time interval is minimal.

The process of verbalization of thoughts is complicated by individual characteristics of each person. Factors affecting the speech formation are education, language proficiency, physiological characteristics, temperament.

Research Questions

To understand the specifics of speech generation, it is necessary to characterize thinking with the help of which a person can process and interpret facts of the surrounding reality. The term “thinking” is interpreted differently in dictionaries. Thinking is the highest level of cognition, reflection of reality in ideas, judgments, and concepts (Ozhegov & Shvedova, 1999; Vinogradov, 1980). Thinking is an ability to reason, think. Thinking and consciousness are properties of the human brain (Ushakov, 1939–1940). Thinking and human consciousness are closely connected with speech, as a form of thinking. This connection causes the difference between the human and the animal. Speech allows thinking to acquire a specific verbal form, this process is interdependent, speech can exist without thinking. The material appearance of verbalized thoughts can be fixed and transmitted in the form of information, the thought process becomes a fact of reality for both the speaker and the listener.

The lack of preparation of oral speech determines extralinguistic features of the utterance (Karaulov, 2007). The speaker fills the living speech with individual characteristics: intonation patterns, rhythmic-tempo features, pauses (Momotova, 2011). A pause is not only a stop in the speech, it is an additional resource for influencing the interlocutor, since silence can be meaningful. Good speech is characterized by pause fragmentation, pauses unite words into a single utterance, reinforce thought, help determine the semantic center, and differentiate microthemes. Expressiveness is based on the breaks in the grammatical construction and pauses: У Маши беда. Большая. Pauses prompt communicants to reflection, when a person falls silent, the interlocutor experiences stress: What happened? Maybe he was offended? Maybe I did / said something wrong? 

Pauses during spontaneous oral speech generation are due to various reasons, depending on the level of the speaker’s general preparedness, psychoemotional state, rhetorical abilities, exposure to stress, confidence in what he is talking about, etc.

Hesitation is a speech fluctuation due to the fact that the speaker is trying to find a suitable word, since in generating speech units, language tools for designing thoughts are chosen. Spontaneity of oral speech is characterized by reduced thinking time, pauses are filled with words-parasites, non-speech units (Zakharova & Kabardina, 2007).

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this article is to analyze pause fillers used by foreign students speaking Russian in the context of educational discourse.

Research Methods

Speech as a result of the higher mental activity builds, systematizes and characterizes the thinking process, has social characteristics, plays a huge role in the development of reality, is studied by specialists of different fields using certain methods.

The material for the article was observations of colloquial Russian speech of foreigners in the context of educational discourse. We analyzed theories of linguistics on oral colloquial speech; analyzed and generalized theoretical and practical language materials. The combination of structural-linguistic and psycholinguistic approaches determined the logic of the analysis and its presentation. The pause fillers and their linguistic features were identified. The relationship of language and thinking is based on psycholinguistics conclusions.


In Russian speech of Kalmyk speakers, the following pause fillers are often found:

«Etot, kak tam, ya, navernoe, segodnya priedu».

«Kak tam, mne nuzhno za kvartiru zaplatit'».

«Segodnya, etot, ya pojdu s druz'yami pogulyat', etot, na novyj fil'm skhodim».

«Konechno, etot, moi druz'ya dolzhny byli priekhat'». These units (kak tam; etot) can go back to Kalmyk fillers “yun bilә terchn?”; " ken bilә terchn?". The frequent use of the word “etot” is observed only in the discourse of Kalmyks. The Russians living in Kalmykia do not use these units.

Mongolian students also use similar units in Russian speech (yuu bilee, yuu, yuu gidg bilee; yaasn bilee):

«Kazhdyj den' zanyatiya u nas nachinayutsya, yuu bilee-e, v vosem' chasov tridcat' minut».

«Vy priekhali iz Tadzhikistana? Vy po nacional'nosti, yuu bilee, tadzhik?»

«Segodnya na ulice, yuu, prohladnaya pogoda».

It should be noted that the Mongols are 4th year students of the Department of Translation Studies of the Mongolian State University. They come to Kalmykia for the 4.5 month language internship. The level of knowledge of Russian as a foreign language corresponds to TRKI- I.

As for Chinese speech, we can see a clear predominance of n è i ge, but we should not forget about territorial features of the dialect and individual characteristics of the speech (Darchiev & Osadchaya, 2019). Chinese students often use the word [nyga], which corresponds to the Russian word “nu”:

«Kak vashe samochuvstvie? – YA chuvstvuyu sebya ne ochen' horosho. Nyga, u menya vysokaya temperatura, nyga, bolit gorlo, nasmork, nyga, i kashel'».

«Obychno ya pokupayu svezhie produkty, nyga, na rynke».

In the Russian discourse of Chinese students, this word can be duplicated several times: "Izvinite, sejchas mne nuzhno skhodit', nyga-nyga, v mezhdunarodnyj otdel."

Turkmen students can use a pause filler “nahilekdù”. Turkmen learn Russian at school, they speak Russian well, know the fundamentals of grammar (Khaleeva, 1989), have speech skills learned in Russian lessons. Therefore, pause fillers are copied:

«YA ne byl na proshloj pare, potomu chto, etot, u menya golova bolela».

«Vchera my s bratom hodili v, kak tam, v mezhdunarodnyj otdel, vizu nado prodlit'».Students from Central Asia have different levels of Russian language skills, purity of their Russian speech often depends on the environment.  Students often copy parasites of the Russian and Kalmyk students: блин, этот, как там, типа, etc.


Oral speech has its own characteristics that determine its cardinal differences from written speech, the main one is the ability to re-read and correct what is written, which is impossible in oral speech. An important distinguishing feature is the “emaciation” of the written text and the inclusion of various elements. One of these elements is pause fillers.

Pause fillers can be used while speaking a foreign language.

Pause fillers in the Russian oral speech of foreigners cannot be considered parasitic words. These are units that allow communicants to formulate thoughts, structure statements in accordance with the situation and grammatical norms.

The inclusion of pause fillers depends on speaker’s nationality. On the one hand, the use of pause fillers helps a foreigner to cope with stress factors when speaking a foreign language. On the other hand, pause fillers can be copied from the speech of Russian native speakers. These words have a national specificity. They do not always “clog” language, performing certain functions.


Copyright information

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

About this article

Publication Date

31 October 2020

eBook ISBN



European Publisher



Print ISBN (optional)


Edition Number

1st Edition




Sociolinguistics, linguistics, semantics, discourse analysis, translation, interpretation

Cite this article as:

Vladimirovna, G. E., Nikolaevna, O. I., Dmitrievna, K. S., & Alekseevna, S. L. (2020). Pause Fillers Used By Foreigners Speaking Russian. In D. K. Bataev (Ed.), Social and Cultural Transformations in the Context of Modern Globalism» Dedicated to the 80th Anniversary of Turkayev Hassan Vakhitovich, vol 92. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 3636-3640). European Publisher.