One of my personal pleasures from returning to live TV is the fact I get to watch a lot of CNBC. That may not sound exciting to a lot of you, but in the recent wild volatility across global financial markets, I find it fascinating to watch the psychology of investors and financial experts as they try to grasp the causes and directions of the markets.
An odd commonality I’ve noted during my time watching is a number of speakers start their sentences with “So”. Not as in, “So, what do you think?” but often more like a “pause button” before speaking, such as, “So. Inflation is expected to increase…”.
It’s almost as if the word is being used similar to the word “Um” or “Uh”. The problem is, once I notice it, I can’t stop noticing it.
That got me to thinking of other words or phrases that I’ve noticed people using to start their sentences off. You know, like “Y’know”.
I used to have a manager working for me who would start many of her sentences with the phrase, “In all honesty”. It’s not as if all the other times she talked to me she was being dishonest or that she wanted me to be especially sure she was speaking honestly this time. She didn’t even realize that she repeated this phrase until I pointed it out to her. (Another version of this, heard from someone else, is “To be honest”).
Another person I knew began a lot of his sentences with the word, “Basically”. Often, the word would come up in the middle of sentences as well.
None of this is meant as a criticism of the people I knew (although I suggested to the manager that she should consider varying her sentence structure), it’s probably more an indication of my word-nerd love of diction and “writer’s ear”. Repetition can be used effectively as a literary tool. It can also backfire if it moves from technique to jarring.
Writing allows greater control over how you communicate, especially if you re-read what you’ve written before you send/publish/post the information. It’s not so easy to tell what affectation or habits you have when you speak. Like bad breath or clothing malfunctions, many people feel uncomfortable mentioning the issue.
So. I don’t notice any speaking affectations of my own when I talk to myself, but I will admit those conversations are pretty one-sided.