Tuesday, August 20, 2013

This is, like, a filler post!

Not killer post--filler post. It's definitely an easier one for me to write up than most, because all I'm going to do is send you to Slate's website to read a short article by Katy Waldman called In Defense of Like.

I can remember my dad getting irritated over the use of the word "like" in this way. And perhaps it does sound a bit vacuous to some. But anything can be a verbal tick, after all. Yesterday, I was listening to a very well-informed and entertaining speaker, but at a certain point I became aware that everything he said was punctuated with a filler, "yeah", "yes", "right", or "that's right". Once I noticed this, I couldn't stop noticing. It's a very kindly sort of tic, but he could have lost about half of them and still not come across as disagreeable.


  1. I once suggested that verbal tics are more annoying on the page than in real life. The same might apply to recorded tics; the reproduced versions eliminate distractions and compel concentration on the annoying. Was the speaker to whom you listened live, or on a recording?

    The related issue is the extent to which increased awareness fostered by reproduction made speakers more self-conscious and turned verbal tics into sins.

    Bouchercon is near, and the recordings I've bought of my panels the past two years make me painfully aware of my own occasional verbal tics.

  2. Hmm. I think I'd say that they are more immediately noticeable on the page, but possibly more annoying in real life, once you become aware of them.

    The speaker I mention was live and in the room and I've heard him speak before and not had this stand out for me. It was only toward the end of his lecture or dialogue with the audience that I really began to notice it. And it's the kind of thing where, once you notice it, you know you're going to hear it over and over because it's not like they are going to change their speech pattern mid discussion.

  3. They're annoying in real life because of that possibly masochistic compulsion we feel to look at or listen to things that drive us nuts.

    On the page, context does much to make verbal tics work. I notice them in writers whose dialogue is not necessarily bad, but just uninspired. That's when the likes and y'knows drive me nuts because they are cheap, lazy shorthand intended to fool the reader into thinking that the author has an ear for how real people really talk.

    My v-word is rich with possibilities: Knowelle

  4. I think it's the opposite. They are annoying in real life because we can't get away from hearing it usually, where with a book,you just, y'know, close it.

  5. Yeah, with a book, you go, like, whatever.